'˜Inspirational' woman recognised for 102 years of service to the Kirk

An 'inspirational' woman who first attended Sunday school at the age of two has been recognised for her 102 years of service to the Kirk.

Sheila Wyles with her long-service award, and above with her husband, Albert, who died in the 1960s. Picture: contributed

Sheila Wyles has been closely associated with the Church of Scotland in Perth and Kinross ever since being taken as a child by her mother in 1916.

Perth-born Mrs Wyles said it was an “honour and a pleasure” to receive a special long service award by Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Susan Brown.

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She was born on 6 July, 1914, eight days after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the ­Austro-Hungarian throne, was shot dead in Sarajevo – the events contributing to the ­outbreak of the First World War.

She spent her childhood attending Sunday school in Methven, before joining the Guild aged 14 and embarking on a lifetime of fundraising for good causes close to her heart.

Now known as the “Grand Old Dame” of the organisation, Mrs Wyles, who still lives in her own home, only stopped making pancakes for Guild get-togethers two years ago.

She last made it out to church a few weeks ago and hates to miss a meeting.

“The Guild has been an irreplaceable part of my life and if I have been able to help people in any way, it has been my ­privilege,” she said.

Mrs Wyles credits living such a long life to the support of her faith, family and friends.

But despite her sunny outlook and good health, there have also been struggles along the way.

Her father died when she was seven months old, her husband Albert passed away in the early 1960s and their daughter, Rachel, died of lupus in 2001 at the age of 51. Mrs Wyles dealt with this latter loss by throwing herself into fundraising for research into the little-understood disease.

She said: “I have had a very happy life. There have been ups and downs but more happy times than sad times. I have a lot to be thankful for.

“I would never have managed to live this long without assistance from other people. Everyone has been so helpful to allow me to be what I am.”

Rt Rev Brown said: “She is an amazing lady, a true inspiration and she has touched so many over so many years.”