Obituary

16th July 2010 at 01:00

Annie Inglis, who has died aged 87, was the unstoppable Aberdeen "panto wifie" who touched thousands of young lives with her infectious enthusiasm for her craft.

Although Coatbridge-born, she spent the majority of her life in the north east, where she founded Attic Theatre and pioneered Aberdeen Arts Centre.

Legions of youngsters affectionately dubbed her Granny Annie - a moniker not entirely to her taste, though she was a proud grandmother and great- grandmother.

Among her best-known pupils were River City soapstar Joyce Falconer, opera singer Lisa Milne and Aberdeen actor Ian Pirie, who has carved a career in theatre, film and television.

Inspirational, with a Svengali-like ability to get people to co-operate with her, Annie refused to be deterred latterly by the confines of a wheelchair and, shortly before her death, staged the medieval mortality play Everyman in her own church, St Margaret of Scotland, in Aberdeen's Gallowgate.

Born Annie Nicol, she was raised in Coatbridge and educated at a local school before attending Glasgow University, aged 16, and graduating with an MA in English.

She taught in Lanarkshire primary schools and provided private speech and drama tuition. When her first marriage ended, she moved to Aberdeen in 1953 as a phonetics teacher at the city's teacher training centre. She became a drama lecturer when the centre became the College of Education.

She developed Attic Theatre in the late 1950s with some of her students who specialised in Shakespeare, but also wanted to perform contemporary plays. Since then, it has presented a huge array of productions including plays, musicals and annual pantomimes, many of which she wrote. The group performed mainly at Aberdeen Arts Centre and His Majesty's Theatre, but also played alternative venues including village halls, cathedrals and graveyards.

When Aberdeen Arts Centre was threatened with closure 12 years ago, she led and won the fight to keep it open, chairing the company which now runs it, Castlegate Arts Ltd.

She was also involved in the early days of the 7:84 theatre company and founded Aberdeen's summer Arts Carnival and Saturday drama workshops. She received Help the Aged's golden award for her work with children and young people.

Annie was Aberdeen City Council's Woman of the Year in 1989 and was appointed an MBE in the 2008 New Year Honours for services to drama.

A fascinating raconteuse, she had been telling stories of a girl called Hannah for years and finally had one published after putting pen to paper at the age of 83. She was working on the second in the series when she died.

Annie stopped lecturing in 1980, but never really retired, remaining busier than ever and a trouper to the end.

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