Obituary: Maggie Cruickshank, folk singer

A FOLK singer who started an annual concert which raised more than £45,000 for cancer charities has died after suffering a stroke.

Maggie Cruickshank was a well-known face at folk clubs in the Capital and beyond, as part of a duo with sister Liz Cruickshank.

Born in Polworth, Maggie went to a special school, before attending Craiglockhart Primary and then Tynecastle High.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She trained to become a nurse and midwife at the Royal Infirmary and at Leith Hospital. Ayrshire and Glasgow were her next stations, before she went to Canada to work as a nurse between 1965 and 1966, first at Montreal Grand Hospital, then in Victoria, Vancouver Island.

While she was there, Maggie and her sister toured the length and breadth of Canada.

On her return, Maggie became “a backbone of the singing scene in Edinburgh”, according to Edinburgh Folk Club, which honoured her with a life membership.

Dr John Barrow, in the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, recalls that Maggie attended the first ever gig of Edinburgh Folk Club in the basement of 23 George Square in October 1973. She joined the club there and remained a singer and organiser at the venue for decades to come.

She also performed frequently at Balerno Folk Club, at the Tron Folk Club, the Wee Folk Club, at Leith Folk Club, in Penicuik and further afield.

Maggie will also be remembered for the Christmas Eve carol-singing “pub crawl” down the Royal Mile which, like her charity concerts, also helped raise money for good causes.

She had to leave her home in Ashley Drive, Colinton, when she had her first stroke and became a resident in St Raphael’s Care Home, where she died on November 29, aged 73.

But the popular musician lived to see a double CD released and launched at the home a few weeks ago, which was put together by Ian McCalman, mainly from live recordings of Maggie and Liz at the Police Club, then run by Ian Green, the Triangle Folk Club, and at Edinburgh Folk Club.

Edinburgh Folk Club’s John Jessiman said: “Maggie was loved by everyone on the local folk scene and much further beyond.

“She was a loyal supporter of all the local folk clubs and good sessions but also attended many other festivals and events throughout Scotland where she was also extremely ‘weel kent’. She once said that the ideal venue for Edinburgh Folk Club would be The Ploo Inn at Keith.”

A memorial concert will be held in her honour at the Pleasance on January 12, in keeping with the tradition of her charity concerts.

Her funeral will take place at Mortonhall Crematorium on Monday, at 3pm, which brother Max said would celebrate her extraordinary life.