Angus united in grief and celebration of the life of a woman described by her family as “a force of a nature”.
Provost Helen Oswald lost a long battle with cancer last week aged 69, and hundreds of mourners packed Carnoustie Church, at which she was a member, to pay their respects.
Tributes were led by her daughter Kirsten, the MP for East Renfrewshire, and Depute Provost Alex King, before her coffin draped in a Saltire, with the Provost’s chain beside.
Kirsten called her mother “a bright, vibrant, strong woman” who made the most of her time with family, and continued in the public eye with great strength until a few weeks before her death.
She said: “Mum worked her socks off in jobs, from nursing auxiliary when we were little, to an insurance lady, estate agent and council officer before making the move into politics.
“Mum founded a local playgroup, she was a Guide leader, she set up a kidney charity to raise funds for a sick colleague, and she was instrumental in the early years of Carnoustie’s French twinning programme.
“Family was at the heart of mum’s life. She loved them so very much.
“She had an unstinting belief in our abilities and made sure we knew that nothing was off-limits. What a powerful thing to teach your children.
“The apples of mum’s eye were her four grandchildren. The arrival of each one was greeted with joy. She was their best friend.
“Mum did some astonishing things. She swam with sharks; she drove a fire engine in a speed trial.
“Nothing was beyond her. She was intrepid.
“A demon with a sewing machine, she could cook for the masses at the drop of a hat, and was an aficionado of Burns.
“We will remember mum so well and so often.
“Mum did more things in her life than whole towns of people have achieved.
“She was a force of nature and a force for good.”
Depute Provost Alex King said he would remember a close colleague who worked with “passion, integrity and energy” and always thought of others before herself.
He said: “Angus was definitely a better place because of Helen and she’ll be sorely missed.
“Our thoughts naturally go to Ed and Helen’s family in the weeks and months ahead.”
The funeral service was attended by provosts from neighbouring local authorities.
Mourners sang the hymns “Make me a channel of your peace” and “How great thou art.”
Mrs Oswald was born in St Marys, Dundee and attended Rockwell High School.
The Oswalds moved to Carnoustie in 1976 and Mrs Oswald was first elected to Angus Council as an SNP member for Sidlaw East in 1999, then for Carnoustie and District before becoming Provost of Angus in 2012.
Mrs Oswald was also a member of a number of outside bodies including Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee, Morgan Trust, Age Concern Angus, Tayside Contracts Joint Committee, Tayside Valuation Board and the Scottish National War Memorial.
As a member of Tayside Fire and Rescue Board, Mrs Oswald successfully fought against proposals to downgrade local cover.
She twice campaigned against the reduction of 24-hour full-time cover at Balmossie Fire Station which was given a reprieve in 2009 and 2010.
Mrs Oswald is survived by her husband Ed, daughters Kirsten and Linsey, and grandchildren Harry, Tom, Isla and Evie.
The Road and the Miles to Dundee A reminder of the long walks around Strathmartine when the Oswalds were courting, and their wedding at its parish church
Fly Me to the Moon
Ae Fond Kiss
For Mr Oswald, for the girls, and Helen’s friends
What a Wonderful World
A celebration of Helen having lived a very full and wonderful life
A Man’s A Man for A That
A favourite song, as sung at the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999
One of Scotland’s best-known national songs, and much loved by the Provost.