Obituary: Patricia MacManaway

Set up one of Scotland's first holistic healing centres with her husband

Born: 26 December, 1925, in Stirling.

Died: November 2009, aged 84.

PATRICIA MacManaway made a deep impression on all who knew her. As healer and friend, she helped many people to transform their lives. She had a rare, twinkling integrity which, combined with her hospitality and sense of fun, spread a sense of life fully lived, of humour and wellbeing in those whose lives met hers.

Tricia, or Trish – not Pat – was a gifted healer who, together with her husband Bruce MacManaway, set up and ran the West Bank Healing Centre in Strathmiglo, Fife in 1959. This became a hub of learning, meditation and all-round nurturing which, over the decades, attracted hundreds of students. The practice is carried on now by John MacManaway, eldest son of Bruce and Patricia.

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Patricia was born in Stirling on Boxing Day, 1925, the oldest child of Donald and Peggy Gilroy, and grew up partly in Woking, and then at her grandparents' home, Tullibody House, outside Stirling. In that bustling and flexible household, she became an excellent cook and hostess, using these skills constantly at West Bank, where there were cosy rituals of morning coffee and afternoon tea, as well as Wednesday lunches and get-togethers.

Her marriage to Bruce, then an army officer, was a true meeting of minds and spirits. Together they forged their own path, in the face of incomprehension and some hostility. It is easy in these more open-minded times to forget how difficult it must have been just a few decades ago, to live as they chose to.

In the 1960s, Bruce and Patricia were given a cottage on Iona, where they were already much-loved regular visitors, and thereafter, family holidays continued to take them there. Just last summer, such an excursion was the highlight of Patricia's year.

For several weeks after Bruce died – in 1988 – Patricia took groups of friends to Iona for weeks of meditation, walks and conviviality. I only got to know her in the mid-1990s, when, in spited of her being diagnosed with Parkinson's, she was still teaching yoga, as she had for nearly 30 years. But though she was exceptionally good at friendship, her chief job was in her family – her three sons, and three grandsons were joined in the last decade by her first granddaughter.

Patricia's youngest son, Patrick, has been president of the British Society of Dowsers, and runs a successful practice so the work Bruce and Patricia started at West Bank carries on and spreads even wider, through the family and via the many people they have trained, influenced and encouraged.

Although Patricia was a dynamic and focused person – always on the go, considering the needs of those around her, thinking ahead and taking care of everything – she also had a quality of stillness which made her a restful companion, confidante and refuge. Whether taking care of her family, making and tending her glorious gardens, preparing meals for her guests, walking her beloved labradors or responding to her wide circle of friends, she never seemed hurried or preoccupied.

In a busy gathering, she would put herself on standby, until there was a quiet moment, and if she had something to say, with a dry twinkle, she was all there. She was a wonderful communicator with rare detachment and compassion, a healing presence, a rock to many (as one of her grandsons dubbed her).

We miss our conversations with Tricia, all of us who have enjoyed her friendship over the years, and are comforted by knowing her, and will think of her every time we "start with an onion".

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