The North-east lost one of its most ardent supporters of its culture and heritage on January 20 with the death of Cecilia Penny, better known by the affectionate name of “Bunty”.
Born in 1932 and bought up on the family farm at Newmachar, Bunty was educated at Ellon Academy and Aberdeen University from where she graduated MA in 1953.
A year at the Teacher Training College was followed by a short spell of teaching at Tillydrone, until the wanderlust took Bunty off to Montreal for a teaching post there.
During her seven years teaching in various Canadian schools, Bunty met former Aberdeen University colleague, Bruce Penny; romance blossomed and they returned to Aberdeen to be married in Kings College Chapel.
Later, permanent return to Scotland saw the family set up home in Fife and the birth of their only son, Alan.
After Alan’s birth Bunty continued her teaching career with playgroup and nursery schools.
Further diplomas in teaching children with learning difficulties followed.
A return to Aberdeenshire, where husband Bruce took over the local shop in the village of Hatton (Cruden), saw Bunty involved in setting up the first schemes for the teaching of children with learning difficulties in the Ellon area.
With the opening of a special school in Fraserburgh, Bunty joined a group of other dedicated teachers dealing with children who had behaviour or emotional problems, a task she lovingly carried out for sixteen years until her retirement.
Following the disposal of the shop in Hatton the family retired to Stuartfield where Bunty was now able to devote her whole time to her great passion, the history and culture of her beloved North-east.
Her interests led her to be actively involved with many local organisations including Buchan Heritage Society where she was a regular “storyteller”, Buchan Field Club, Ythan Speakers’ Club, Buchan Writers Group, Buchan Tourism Group, Epilepsy Support, BBridge, Buchan Countryside Group and many others.
She was paricularly interested in supporting the use of the Doric dialect and was a long time Trustee of the Charles Murray Memorial Fund, giving many talks to local organisations on the life and work of Murray, her favourite poet.
The instigation of the Book of Deer Project saw Bunty take a major role in promoting the book and its historical significance to the North East, organising and giving talks, seminars, visits and lectures on its history and importance.
She was a dedicated member of Deer Parish Church where she could be seen seated in the choir even on the Sunday before her death.
The major achievement of her retirement was the collecting of information, writing, editing and publishing her magnum opus, “Stuartfield, our Place” a definitive story of her adopted Crichie and its people.
Bunty’s passing will be a great loss to the many organiations she supported and encouraged, her enthusiasm for the local culture and dialect was unsurpassed.