Obituary: Elizabeth Angus, councillor and community volunteer

Elizabeth Angus''Councillor and community volunteer ''Born: 6 September, 1920, in Bower, Caithness''Died: 12 June, 2012 in Thurso, Caithness, aged 91
Elizabeth Angus''Councillor and community volunteer ''Born: 6 September, 1920, in Bower, Caithness''Died: 12 June, 2012 in Thurso, Caithness, aged 91
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Born: 6 September, 1920, in Bower, Caithness. Died: 12 June, 2012 in Thurso, Caithness, aged 91.

To describe her as a human dynamo barely does justice to Elizabeth Angus.

Despite being a busy farmer’s wife she thought nothing of putting in a round trip of 230 miles to represent her community on the regional council and then rising before 4am to do the milking.

Then there was her work as a Justice of the Peace; her 50 years’ service to the Townswomen’s Guild, cancer research and the Eastern Star; the three decades of support for Thurso Heritage Society and her service as area organiser for the WRVS, to say nothing of her church work and the Darby and Joan Club she founded.

She simply didn’t do anything by halves.

Public service and farming were in her blood, however, as the daughter of Caithness councillor and farmer George Baikie and his wife Christine.

She was born on the family’s Lochview Farm, at Bower in Caithness, and began work there after becoming dux of Bower School.

She was effectively a landgirl, helping out with every aspect of the farm, including the cattle and sheep, and after the end of the Second World War, she married another local farmer, Charles Angus.

They farmed at Oldfield, Thurso, with Elizabeth again taking a hands-on role in the running of the business which, for many decades, included a large dairy herd.

But by the late 1960s she had decided to follow in the footsteps of her father, who served as a county councillor for more than 30 years.

She was elected to Thurso Town Council in 1968 and went on to serve the subsequent District Council and then Highland Regional Council. She represented her community for 23 years, always as an independent, and fervently believed party politics had no place in local government.

Somehow, despite the various demands on her time, she managed to combine life as a farmer’s wife with numerous strands of public service.

Although the dairy cows were sold off in 1978, for the final eight years the herd was on the farm she did the milking by herself each morning. She would be straight into the dairy at 3:45am, striding round the byre, attending to the 100 cows.

It was a long day, especially if she had council duties but she thrived on hard work and had energy in abundance, always returning the 100-plus miles home from meetings in Inverness to be in the dairy for milking the following the morning.

During her years on the council, and for several years afterwards, she also served as a Justice of the Peace – another expression of her desire to help her own community.

She was also a permanent fixture on the local cancer research committee which she served for 50 years, including periods as secretary and treasurer, helping it to raise just under £400,000.

In 1952, she joined the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, later becoming its area organiser.

She ran its clothing store in Thurso, collecting clothing which was regularly distributed to disaster areas worldwide, and even roped in the local milk van to collect old clothes on its rounds.

In addition, she worked with the Thurso Town Improvements Association and gave half a century of service to the local Townswomen’s Guild, becoming its secretary, treasurer and president, often travelling to its Birmingham HQ to represent the north area federation.

She helped to found the local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, was a member of, as well as organist for, the Order of the White Shrine in Wick for many years, and a member of St Peter’s and St Andrew’s Church, Thurso, which, along with others, she helped to rejuvenate after it had lain disused for many years.

There was virtually no stopping her. After becoming concerned about the loneliness that could be experienced by local pensioners she decided to set up a Darby and Joan Club where they could go for a chat, a cup of tea and some company. It ran for 20 years.

She also played a key role in Thurso Heritage Society for 30 years, served as its chairwoman and was involved in Thurso Museum where she volunteered on countless afternoons.

After her daughter Myra died in 1991, she became more engrossed in voluntary work, before finally giving it up around 2000.

“She was very passionate about Caithness and Thurso in particular,” said her son, Charles. “She always wanted to help everybody have an easier life and to help anybody in need. She never did anything by half, it was always 101 per cent”.

Widowed in 2000, she is survived by her son, her sister Jessie, three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.