Pupils at Leuchars Primary School are building a new memorial garden in tribute to Mrs Suzy Mackenzie.
Mrs Mackenzie had worked in the school for 25 years when she passed away last summer from cancer in the mouth.
Having worked in the office, Mrs Mackenzie was described by her colleagues as the ‘familiar face’ everyone knew – pupils, parents, and staff.
And yet Covid requirements to wear face masks in schools last academic year meant she was able to hide her illness, even when she struggled to talk.
Mrs Mackenzie worked right up until the last day of term before the summer break, then passed away on the last day of the holidays.
P7 pupil Iona Randal-Wight, 12, has been at the school since P1 and remembers Mrs Mackenzie fondly.
She said: “She was really kind and sweet. She saved me a lot of late slips when I was younger.
“She was really into flowers and gardening, she loved the colour purple and she loved her turtle when she was young.”
P6 pupil Ilaisa Macawai, 10, added: “I was shocked and sad when I found out. I knew her quite well. She didn’t ever shout or get mad at anyone, she was kind.
“Everyone knew her and would say ‘hi’ as they went past the office.”
Mrs Meg Allan, P3 teacher at the school, met Mrs Mackenzie when she joined the school in 1998 and the pair quickly became close friends.
Mrs Allan said: “I can’t put into words what she meant to the school. She was a rock to staff and a welcoming smile to every pupil and parent – a familiar face.
“She never stopped smiling. The last couple of years were quite difficult for her but you wouldn’t have known it, she never let her guard down or let anyone know she was ill.
No one knew, she just kept going.”
“She had a tumour in her mouth and could hardly talk but masks were in place so no one knew, she just kept going.
“I knew she was bad, she phoned me. I couldn’t quite take it in, even now I still can’t imagine life without her, I still can’t believe she’s not here.”
Mrs Mackenzie’s absence was felt throughout the school and a ‘purple day’ fundraiser was organised in her honour, where pupils dressed in her favourite colour.
Keen to put the money towards a special place to remember her, the school’s pupil council came up with the idea of a memorial garden, which they named ‘The Resilience Garden’.
The school used the funds raised, plus a £5,000 donation from the Ministry Of Defence based at Leuchars Station, to purchase the materials needed for the garden.
P7 pupil Amarah Shutler, 11, said: “We came up with the ideas for the garden and did drawings of everything we wanted. We wanted it to be somewhere relaxing.”
Fellow P7 pupil Gregor Warden, also 11, added: “We will have a fountain in the middle, bug hotels and lots of flowers. I’m looking forward to seeing it all finished, Mrs Mackenzie would have loved it.”