Lady Mackenzie-Stuart

Passionate advocate of European Union

Born: 7 June, 1930, in Edinburgh.

Died: 14 October, 2008, in Edinburgh, aged 78.

THE daughter of an Edinburgh solicitor, Anne Mackenzie-Stuart was born and grew up in Edinburgh, with the exception of the time she spent in Bridge of Allan as a wartime evacuee. After her schooling in the city, she proceeded to the University of Edinburgh, from where she graduated MA, LLB in 1951.

It was at the university that she met her future husband, fellow student Jack Mackenzie-Stuart, who was appointed in 1972 as British judge at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and who ultimately became president of that court.

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From a very early age, Anne was a passionate advocate of a united Europe, and remained so for more than 60 years. She told of how her father had taken her to London in 1947, where they had seen the appalling destruction wrought by Nazi bombing. Her determination to contribute what she could to a Europe that would enjoy lasting peace grew out of that experience.

In the 1960s she obtained an LLM at the Centre of European Governmental Studies at Edinburgh University, studying with Professor JDB Mitchell. It was here that she developed a particular interest in European law as a force for good.

Lord Mackenzie-Stuart acknowledged Anne's passionate commitment to Europe and to European law in particular, when he wrote: "My heartfelt tribute goes to my wife, whose involvement in, and knowledge of, European community law long antedated mine.

"To her go my warmest thanks for keeping my interest in the law of the European communities alive when it seemed of remote concern to the practising lawyer in the United Kingdom." Coming from the president of the European Court, this was the highest possible accolade.

In her time in Luxembourg, Anne brought a welcome breath of kindness and informality to what could often be a rigid and formalistic legal world. Mackenzie-Stuart parties in Luxembourg, as in Edinburgh, became legendary. She also shone in her own right as chairwoman of the parent-teacher association of the European School in Luxembourg, quickly mastering the intricate and occasionally Byzantine politics of a school of some 2,500 pupils, children of European community civil servants drawn from the 12 EU member states of that time.

In those days, pupils were obliged to attend school on Saturday mornings, a practice much frowned upon by the British, Danes and Irish, the then "new boys". Others, particularly the Italians and Germans, were much attached to the notion of school on Saturday. The issue came to a head at a meeting of several hundred parents, chaired by Anne. The arguments raged back and forth. Anne finally won everyone over by arguing that heating the school on Saturday mornings was needlessly expensive and ecologically unfriendly, a tactical masterstroke that won her the undying gratitude of thousands of youngsters, and their parents, who from then on enjoyed school-free Saturdays.

Returning to Scotland in 1988, Anne maintained her great interest in "things European" and soon became vice-chairman of the European Movement in Scotland, campaigning vigorously to convince Scots of the advantages of their membership of the European Union. She was an unfailing source of support, advice and friendship in the affairs of the European Movement, always ready to speak her mind, but in such a way that people appreciated whatever she had to say.

She continued her active support of the Europa Institute in Edinburgh University's College of Law, an institute which had grown out of the centre established by Prof Mitchell.

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Committed as she was to the European cause, her life was far from circumscribed by it. She revelled in the world of music, singing in particular. Gardening was yet another of her life's loves. She collected specimens from wherever her travels took her, often visiting an international network of friends.

Anne had greatly anticipated the remodelling of the garden in the house to which she had only very recently moved. On learning that her illness left her with little time to live, she immediately and very characteristically charged her family with the responsibility of ensuring that her plans would be carried out. In fact, her garden was transformed in Ground Force style in just one weekend, thus ensuring her enjoyment of it before her death.

Anne was equally engaged in all the arts, in travelling, Scottish country dancing, ornithology, gastronomy, the environment and, unsurprisingly for such an ardent Francophile, the Tour de France.

Above all, she was passionate about people – old, young, everyone she knew, and, through her many charitable and church activities, many she did not. At gatherings she could always be seen looking out for the shy, the young, the hesitant, making sure they were at ease and fully involved in whatever the event might be.

Family was at the centre of her life. She had a close and happy relationship with a vast family network covering three generations. Quite simply, she brought sunshine and purpose into the lives of others.

Anne bore her final illness with typical courage. She is survived by her brother, Fergus, her daughters, Amanda, Katie, Laura and Judy, and by her grandchildren, Daisy, Marianna, Marina and Jamie.