Obituary: Alison Twaddle, 63

Alison Twaddle
Alison Twaddle
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Alison Twaddle, former general secretary of the Church of Scotland Guild, has died, aged 63.

Born in Yorkshire, Alison went to school in Barnsley and then university in St Andrews to study French.

It was there she met fellow student Laurence Twaddle and they married in 1973, the year after they graduated.

Laurence served as assistant minister at St Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh’s West End before becoming minister at Belhaven Parish Church, in Dunbar, where he and Alison have spent the past 35 years.

As well as being minister’s wife, Alison became an elder in the church and played an active role in the congregation.

While she was bringing up her family – daughters Mary and Sarah and son John – she worked from home using her languages degree to translate books from French into English.

Later, she did an admin job in the health service and then took up a part-time post as European secretary for the Church of Scotland’s board of world mission.

She moved within Kirk headquarters to become information officer for the Church of Scotland Guild for two years and then was appointed general secretary in 1998.

The organisation, previously known as the Woman’s Guild, had just emerged from a difficult modernisation process and Alison was a steadying influence as it adapted to new ways. She led the 27,000-member organisation for 13 years before standing down in 2011.

In 2006/07, she served as chaplain to the then Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, the Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald, accompanying him and his wife on an extensive official tour of India.

In 2009, she was diagnosed with cancer and told there was no cure. She received treatment to keep the disease at bay and managed to carry on with her work and other activities.

Dr McDonald said: “She was not battling against it, she accepted it and got on with living life each day.”

Her death last Thursday after a heart attack was unexpected.

She and Laurence had recently returned from a visit to Paris, a gift from the congregation to mark their 35 years at Belhaven.

Alison had been due to make one of her frequent contributions to Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day on Monday.

Iain Whyte, the current general secretary of the Guild, said: “Alison was respected for her role as General Secretary of the Church of Scotland Guild, to which she brought her many gifts. More than that, though, she was respected as a thoughtful and caring friend.

“She will be very much missed by the very many people whose lives she touched.”

The funeral service will take place at Belhaven Parish Church tomorrow followed by burial at Spott cemetery.