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We note the loss of the following former staff, students and graduates:

Martin Orde OBE

Died 2 January, 2015 in Newcastle, Aged 92.

Colonial officer and civil servant whose career took him from Africa to Edinburgh. Under strict Scottish Office rules at the time, Martin was required to retire at the age of 60. Martin was invited to join the board of Queen Margaret College (now Queen Margaret University), and soon became chairman. He also volunteered for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. However, most of the extra time he had was spent on another great interest – sailing.

Link to obituary published in The Scotsman

Dr John Bellany

Passed away on Wednesday 28th August 2013

Dr John Bellany died in his studio, surrounded by his family. He was clutching a paintbrush in his hand as he took his final breath. His passion was life and he painted as if each day was his last.

Link to obituary published in The Scotsman


Sir Garth Morrison

Died peacefully in his sleep on Friday 24 May 2013.

Sir Garth Morrison, Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian (from 2001 to date ) and an Honorary Graduate of QMU, was a particularly good friend of QMU and helped to welcome QM into East Lothian with his customary charm and warmth of character. He will be very much missed.


Dr Jean Doyle

Died on Sunday 12 May 2013

Dr Doyle was Head of the Dept of Science and Dietetics when she retired in 1986 and had been a member of staff of Edinburgh College of Domestic Science and then Queen Margaret College from 1969. Jean’s interest in QM never dwindled, and between learning Chinese, travelling and gardening, she was to be seen at numerous QM events over the years and remained a strong friend and supporter until very recently.


Annie 'Nan' Burnett

Teacher, councillor and graduate of Atholl Crescent.

Born, 24 June 1935

Died, 22 February 2012, Melrose

Link to obituary published in The Scotsman


Penny Aitken

Former University Librarian Penny Aitken led her team of staff through significant changes over her 30 years with the institution; all with great skill, professionalism and humour. (Retired 2004.)

Born 16 March 1947, London.

Died 29 November 2011, Edinburgh

Link to obituary published in The Scotsman


Alan Dunbar

Drama teacher, athlete and theatre director. Former Head of Drama at Queen Margaret College (retired 1990).

Born 26 February, 1934 in Stranrear

Died 1 July, 2011 in Edinburgh, aged 77.

Link to obituary published in The Scotsman

Karen Krombie

Born September 24th, 1979; died January 28th, 2011

Dr Margaret Auld

Colleagues and former staff and students will be most sad to hear of the death of Dr Margaret Auld on Friday (10th September 2010). Margaret was QM’s first Honorary Graduate which she was most proud to receive from HRH Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester (then QMC Patron) in 1987. From 1977 until her retiral in 1988, Margaret Auld was Chief Nursing Officer for the Scottish Home and Health Department, and was a passionate advocate of increased educational opportunities for nurses, and thereby increasing the credibility of the nurse as a practitioner, teacher, manager and researcher. Margaret was a most valued supporter of QMU. Having joined the Governing Body in 1989, she went on to become Chair of Governors from 1997 – 2000. After retiring as Chair of Governors, she continued her interest in QM and kept in close contact, lending support whenever appropriate.

Margaret will be much missed by her friends and colleagues and former members of Court/Governing Body who knew her.

Professor Petra Wend, QMU Principal and Vice-Chancellor


Prof Billie Thomson OBE


Published in The Scotsman, May 2010

Born: 13 April, 1936, in Glasgow.
Died: 3 May, 2010, in Edinburgh, aged 74.

Prof Billie Thomson’s professional association with Queen Margaret College:

1976 – Senior Lecturer

1979 – Served 8 years on QMC Governing Body

1988 - Professor & Head of Dept of Nursing & Community Health

Director for the Centre for International Health Studies

1997 - Retired

BILLIE Thomson's distinguished nursing career from 1951 to her retirement in 1997, covered an exciting period of development of education for nurses in the UK, from which she benefited and to which in turn she made a major national and international contribution. While the image of nursing still tends to be that of the nurse at the bedside, her career illustrates well the rich diversity of experience that nursing offers.

She was born in Glasgow and educated at Eastwood Secondary School, and at the age of 15 she began her two-year studies at Logan and Johnston Pre-nursing College before training as a registered general and orthopaedic nurse in Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary, then as a midwife in Glasgow and Aberdeen. After experience as a staff midwife, her thirst for travel took her to the Army, to serve with the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps from 1960-1967 in Aldershot, Munster in Germany, Taiping in Malaysia and Dharan in Nepal. She specialised in midwifery, acute surgical and theatre work, and tropical diseases. As Captain, she returned to London as senior nursing officer in charge of operating theatres at the Royal Northern Hospital.

At this point in 1967, Thomson was aware of the pioneering developments in nurse education at the University of Edinburgh, where the first Department of Nursing Studies in Europe had recently been established. Knowing she would need qualifications, she showed her academic strengths in obtaining, within just a few years, entry to the university to get a BSc in social sciences, diploma in nursing administration, certificate in advanced nurse education and registration as a nurse tutor.

She was then appointed to one of the first NHS/University joint appointments as nursing officer in surgery at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, combined with clinical teaching support to Edinburgh University's undergraduate nursing students.

In 1976 Thomson started a long association with the then Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh, now Queen Margaret University. As senior lecturer, she developed a new clinical nurse education programme, within which she had a particular interest in encouraging experienced nurses to analyse and articulate the often taken for granted elements of skilled performance and the tacit knowledge underlying expertise. She wanted to know, for example, what the experienced midwife sees and feels when a newborn infant becomes "floppy". What prompts the experienced ward sister to stop suddenly as she passes a patient's bed? How do they "just know" that all is not well? She sought answers to questions that help novices to learn from expert practitioners.

In 1979, she joined the Scottish Home and Health Department as advisor on nurse education, during which time she served for eight years on the Governing Body of Queen Margaret College. In 1988 she returned to Queen Margaret as professor and head of department of nursing and community health, and latterly as first director of the Centre for International Health Studies, the forerunner of the current Institute for International Health and Development, retiring in 1997.

In addition to wide knowledge of nursing education and practice, Thomson had considerable experience in the less visible background work of professional regulation and the framing of nursing legislation, important in establishing standards and protecting the public.

International links developed for Queen Margaret, and work in an advisory capacity for the World Health Organisation, British Council, United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, and the European Union allowed her to continue her love of travel, to Canada, Malawi, Zambia, India, China, Bangladesh and across Europe.

She had much respect for the achievements of colleagues struggling to establish nursing within difficult political regimes and widely varying cultures. She recalled an audience with an African president to discuss proposals for outline legislation for nursing. On seeing the draft papers she had prepared, and on hearing about the necessary and possibly long legislative processes, he promptly declared the proposals as law. She noticed that things happen much faster in a dictatorship.

The award of OBE was a well earned mark of respect for her services to health care and nursing throughout her career. With characteristic self-deprecation and irreverent humour, she always referred to it as "Other Buggers' Efforts". She did not like the limelight, often keeping her sharp intellect under wraps, but she is remembered well for many things: for her quick and quirky wit and Glaswegian one-liners; for skill honed in the army and civil service in analysing situations quickly; for her much appreciated ability to attract funding for educational and research development; but overall for a lifetime commitment to strengthening nurse education.

Since the early Eighties, she did a lot of her relaxing in the Borders, where she developed a garden on an acre of the former Peebles to Galashiels railway line, scene of many parties and barbecues. Cooking was a passion and she made many famous curries, having picked up her skills with spices from the women in Nepal.

Her increasing disability in recent years was handled with characteristic fight and humour and she was grateful for the support received from so many health and social care colleagues and friends. Billie Thomson is fondly remembered by her brother and family in Scotland, sister and family in Canada and by her many good friends in the UK and abroad

Professor Donald Leach CBE (1931 – 2009)
(Principal, Queen Margaret College, 1985 – 1996)
Professor Leach led Queen Margaret for eleven years, from 1985-96 with great foresight, determination, and an ambitious but practical vision of the kind of institution which Queen Margaret could become. He continued to be a staunch supporter and friend, not least through the Donald Leach Prize in Drama. Donald was a great figure in our history, and our achievement of university title was a direct legacy of his leadership.
Born: 31 June 1931
Died: 25 February 2009
link to obituary published in The Scotsman, 4 March 2009

Mrs Jessie (Jess) Wilson
Former student at Edinburgh College of Domestic Science (Atholl Crescent) and a much respected Lecturer in the Department of Food and Nutrition at Atholl Crescent and at Queen Margaret College.
Died: 12th February 2009 in Devon.

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