Obituary: Rosemary Hall, senior SNP official

Political campaigner with a commitment to church and charity and a strong eye for detail

Rosemary Hall, senior SNP official.

Born: 22 April, 1925, in Aberdeen.

Died: 29 May, 2011, in Peebles, aged 86.

WITH the death of Rosemary Hall on 29 May 2011 each of the communities in which she lived, and each of the spheres of interest in which she served, has lost someone whose contribution to life was considered by those who knew her almost unique and highly individualist.

Rosemary Johnston was born in 1925 and spent her early years in Montrose, where her father and uncle ran the family business Messrs Joseph Johnston & Sons Ltd, salmon fishers.

Her father served as Provost of the Burgh, and the family were well known as generous benefactors of the local area, Rosemary continuing the tradition and clearly imbibing from an early age an ethos of service.

She began her education in Montrose, but on the outbreak of war her school was evacuated to Speyside where (away from home) her sense of fun, spirit of adventure and love of nature were given every chance to develop.

After leaving school Rosemary trained at Dugdales in Edinburgh and became PA to a partner in a firm of accountants in Edinburgh, proving from the beginning of her working life that she was a phenomenally successful organiser.

In 1952 she married a young and promising architect, Eric Hall, who went on to found the firm Reiach & Hall in the capital.

At that time when most young women ceased paid employment on marriage, Rosemary appears barely to have altered her stride - giving up her job yes, but certainly not stopping work.

Vehemently against the use of nuclear power either for energy or for weapons, she was a member of CND, organised at least one tour for Monsignor Bruce Kent; was supportive of the Greenham Common Women's protest and campaigned vigorously against the building of Torness Nuclear Power station.

But it was perhaps in the field of Scottish Nationalist politics that she came into her own. Joining the party she graduated quietly and efficiently from an honorary public relations post in 1965 to become national organising secretary.

When Winnie Ewing won the Hamilton by-election Rosemary chartered the famous Tartan Express train to accompany the new member to Westminster.

She was director of the election campaign when the party gained seven seats in the 1974 election, more than they had achieved to that date, and was for a time national secretary.

Colleagues remember her as being self-effacing, but a brilliant organiser, all tasks great and small being carried out with great precision.

She appeared to be possessed of an almost photographic memory, and pin-point accuracy was a feature of everything she did. She was a ruthless operator with a red pen, and all who knew her or worked with her dreaded scripts and communications of all kinds being returned covered in corrections, but her belief and her loyalty were unswerving.

But under girding all that she did in her life was her unswerving faith in God. She and Eric served with distinction not only the congregations of which they were members, but their wider parishes and communities also.

In Upper Tweeddale, where she was a member at Stobo, she served as an elder, became part of a group trained to lead worship in the four parishes, and was the highly effective clerk to the General Kirk Session for 19 years, keeping successive ministers in order with the same rigour and enthusiasm as she applied to everything. She served the church both at Presbytery level, including a year as moderator, and at national level on the church and nation committee amongst others. In all things, she had a passion for justice which was reflected in the work of the charities she supported tirelessly; charities such as Amnesty International, Christian Aid, MAF, Blythswood, children's charities, animal charities and many others.

When the Church of Scotland Guild began to examine the issue of human trafficking, particularly of East European women, Rosemary spearheaded a local initiative in the Borders and galvanised people into action, fact-finding, holding meetings, writing letters to politicians and heads of state, heightening awareness in a way which left others breathless - and this in the last ten years of her life when lesser mortals might think of slowing down, or at least come to terms with decreasing mobility.

She never did. In her 86 years, Rosemary made many lasting friendships. The exterior was sometimes rather severe, and she was certainly impatient when her exacting standards were not being met. But she had, for all that, a quite mischievous sense of fun and knew how to enjoy herself when the occasion arose.

She never asked for love, but those who knew her well loved and respected her and deeply mourn her passing. Rosemary was predeceased by her husband, Eric. The couple had no children