Airi Brodie (Graham), who died in July, was a well-known and highly- respected figure in the world of home economics. She established a national reputation in the subject and in curriculum development in schools.
Mairi taught at Falkirk High for four years before moving to Moray Middle School as principal teacher. She was quickly promoted to principal teacher in Grangemouth High. In 1979, she became adviser in home economics with Central Region and started to shape and influence, at regional and national levels, how home economics was taught in schools and how it was perceived.
The value of Mairi's contribution to education was soon recognised beyond Central Region. In 1984, she was invited to serve on the Scottish Consultative Committee on the Curriculum, the most powerful voice in Scottish education at the time. At the end of her term of office, she became a principal examiner with the Scottish Examination Board. It was probably in this role, and later on the examination board panel, that she exerted her greatest and longest-lasting influence over the direction of her subject.
As chair of the panel, Mairi took up the cudgels to have home economics accorded the same status as other subjects, because the Higher was not recognised by the Scottish University Committee on Entrance. It looked a bit like David taking on Goliath, but the committee members succumbed to Mairi's determination and not inconsiderable charms, and home economics was granted the recognition it deserved.
Meanwhile, in Central Region, Mairi took on responsibilities for development planning and quality assurance, and was appointed head of support services. In 1996, following local government reorganisation, she became an education officer for Falkirk Council until her retirement.
Mairi abounded with energy and packed her days full of activity, whether as a skilled needlewoman, called on to repair tapestries at Hopetoun House, or as breeder of Jacob's sheep. Mairi often told the tale of how she came to breed them: a breeder had turned up at the family farm one day with a trailer of Jacob's sheep. Her father thought they were scrawny- looking things, but Mairi decided to take three of them. He urged her to hide them away in case the neighbours saw them, but Mairi obviously saw something that her father did not. It was not long before her name, as a breeder of Jacob's sheep, was appearing in the list of championship winners at agricultural shows throughout Scotland. Anything Mairi took on, she did with dedication and determination to succeed.
It is difficult to think of Mairi without the adjectives elegant and stylish coming to mind. One morning, wearing a navy blue suit with a trace of gold thread through it, she called in to speak to a Falkirk P3 class. Later that day, the headteacher asked if anyone could remember who the important lady was. Quick as a flash, a hand went up and a little girl's voice, full of awe and wonder, said, "Yes miss, she was a goddess."
Mairi never allowed her illness to interfere with her ability to enjoy life to the full. In retirement she became a very keen angler, and she and her husband, Andrew, often enjoyed the company of their many good friends on the banks of the Spey. The lives of many have been made richer through knowing her.
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