Obituary: Joan Cregeen MBE, charity worker

Joan Madeleine Cregeen MBE, charity worker. Born: 28 May, 1920, in Cheshire. Died: 27 August, 2010, in Kinross, aged 90.

Joan Cregeen began her Red Cross involvement with the local Kinross & Clackmannan Detachment in 1962, and continued this work until 1989, by which time she was Red Cross director of the Forth Valley Branch with overall responsibility for the whole of the newly formed Forth Valley region.

This was a major responsibility which involved the reorganisation and creation of an effective administration for the Red Cross for this large area at a time when volunteers carried responsibilities, some of which have now devolved to other government and social service bodies.

As was the case with most of those working with her, Joan's work was unpaid and effectively full-time.

Joan Madeleine Cregeen was born in Cheshire in 1920. Widowed at a young age and with five children, the three youngest still at school, she went on to create a new life for herself with great distinction.

It was appropriate that she be christened Joan, as throughout her long life her Christian faith was unwavering in its commitment to offering service. This was done without fuss or fanfare.

She faced personal loss, the demands of a large family and later the professional demands as a director of Red Cross, Justice of the Peace and chairman of the St James Church vestry committee with determination and grace.

Her father was managing director of the family pharmaceutical company which dated back to the 18th century. Her mother was an artist and cousin of the English composer Herbert Howells. Her mother died when Joan was only two and it was her maternal grandmother who provided the care and inspiration for her life.

Joan Barstow, as she was then, trained to be a teacher and in 1944 married William Allan Cregeen, the son of a Methodist minister. The Cregeens were a Manx family, the name being the oldest recorded on the Isle of Man.

With a large family, Joan's energies were devoted to her young children and her husband's innovative career. Their early married life was spent in Somerset, mainly living on the Quantocks.

In 1957 they moved to Canada where Allan had a short but very distinguished career as a forensic scientist at the Attorney-General's laboratory in Toronto.

Family matters brought them back to the UK and with her typical energy and resolve Joan organised and managed their return.Throughout her life, her husband's family remained close and following a move to Scotland by his brother, Eric Cregeen, a leading historian in Scottish oral history, and also that of his sister Sheila, a writer and archaeologist, Allan and Joan chose to return to Scotland, and to Dollar with its renowned Academy.

Joan joined the British Red Cross in 1962 as a volunteer of the Kinross & Clackmannanshire Detachment, training in nursing and first aid.

Following her husband's death in 1968, she was promoted to commandant and asked to take on the role as deputy president for Clackmannanshire. Upon regionalisation she was appointed director of the newly-formed Forth Valley branch.

As a full-time volunteer she assumed a far wider-ranging responsibility for first aid training, emergency response, escort and transport service, health and social care including skin camouflage and therapeutic care, the tracing service, HIV awareness and humanitarian education.

Liaison with other organisations, including the police, NHS, Scottish Ambulance Service and local authorities, was an important function, along with internal committees covering finance and the personnel involved in the above activities.

Joan's enduring capacity to organise and conduct day-to-day business and meetings in a very firm but courteous, kindly and often humorous manner ensured that "things got done" without acrimony.

During this period she was also a Justice of the Peace, a responsibility which perhaps she did not always greatly enjoy but one which she fulfilled with her typical professionalism. Her time of oversight within the St James Episcopal Church in Dollar encouraged members of that community in work at St Luke's Wester Hailes and at Glenochil prison.

She was award the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and for her outstanding services to the Red Cross she was awarded the Voluntary Medical Services Medal, was honoured with the Red Cross Badge of Honour and after her retirement she was appointed an MBE.

In 1989, after 26 years service, the warmth and good wishes shown at her retiral presentation were a genuine expression of her stature as director at Stirling and throughout the branch.

Notwithstanding her heavy professional commitments, Joan Cregeen remained very closely involved with her ever-growing family from Scotland to southern England, Slovenia, Northern Ireland and Southern Turkey. She is survived by her five children and their families.