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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Dr Sheila Douglas 1932-2013

9th May 2013

The Scots language community was saddened by the death of Dr Sheila Douglas at the end of April. Sheila was a well-known figure in the musical and Scots communities for many years. Born in Yorkshire in 1932, her mother was English and her father a marine engineer from Ayrshire. Sheila attended Paisley Grammar and in 1950 went to study at the University of Glasgow. She later obtained her PhD from the University of Stirling. Sheila had lived in Perth since 1960 where she became a regular and prominent figure in the folk music scene, helping to organise the Perth Folk Club and also the Traditional Music and Song Association. She became a noted authority and collector of songs in Scots, was herself a singer, as well as a writer and supporter of the Scots language, both through the Scots Language Society and Scots Language Centre. Sheila died at Scone aged 81 and her funeral took place in Perth on 29 April. North East Scots poet Sheena Blackhall has written the following poetic tribute to Sheila:

A Yorkshire lass on her mither’s side,

An Ayrshire cheil, her faither

Aften at sea, as an engineer

In gurly an peacefu weather


At 5 she crossed the border tae bide

In Scotland, in Renfrewshire

An she sang like a liltin lintie there

In the Paisley Grammar choir


She merriet an moved tae the toun o Perth

Far ben in the TMSA

Belle Stewart the traiveller wis her frien

An mony’s the tune they’d play


The seeds war sown for a wechty hairst

Her buiks, her sangs, won praise

Bit sair wis the weird that stole her voice

An bladded her hinmaist days


Gin ghaists cam back frae the warld ayont

She’ll appear as a cheery sang

That the gaun aboot fowk will takk up

Tae chant as they wauk alang