Obituary: Ann Dargie, well-travelled teacher who helped stage passion play with Deacon Blue star

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Ann Dargie, teacher. Born: 
9 January 1931 in Madras, India. Died: 13 July 2019 in Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, Glasgow, aged 88.

It was in 1947 when Ann Swingler, born into an Anglo-Indian family in Madras and then just 16 years old, came with her mother Enid and brother Gordon to settle in Glasgow.

The move took the family away from the war and mass migration that occurred around the time India was declared independent of British rule and partitioned from Pakistan.

The plan was that Gordon would take up an apprenticeship in marine engineering with the world famous shipping and engineering company Harland and Wolff and Ann’s father Herbert – a doctor in the British Army – would join the family later, once his service had ended. Gordon successfully completed his apprenticeship and continued with his career but sadly, Herbert died never having made the trip to Scotland.

The family were virtually penniless. But Enid – a science teacher in India – found work as a primary teacher. Meanwhile Ann went into higher education and trained as a home economics teacher at the School of Domestic Science, now part of Glasgow Caledonian University.

She then pursued a successful teaching career, initially at St George’s Road Junior Secondary, where she was promoted to Principal Teacher, and at Colston Secondary in Springburn, where she was also Principal Teacher. During her time at Colston she was appointed Examiner for the Scottish Education Department, setting exam papers in Home Economics and undertaking moderating visits to schools in Glasgow as well as in the Orkney and Shetland Isles.

Always with a broad and ecumenical outlook and keen interest in what was happening in other countries, Ann also undertook an exchange year in Australia, teaching in a further education college in Melbourne and visiting India and Ceylon on the journey there.

It was in the Seventies that she met Roy Dargie in Glasgow through friends and a mutual interest in the arts.

They married in 1976 and initially set up home in Dubai, where Roy worked as a civil engineer with the London-based consultancy firm Sir William Halcrow and Partners. Ann taught in the school set up by her husband’s firm for its employees and then at a primary school attended by Arab children.

In the early Eighties the couple set off on their travels again, spending two years in Jakarta, where Ann taught English to the employees of the Hilton Hotel. For a decade after they lived in London and Ann taught at Hammersmith Academy. On Roy’s retirement they moved to Wales, where Roy had bought a house some years previously.

Ann, was not about to retire, though. Always busy she worked as a supply teacher in schools in Llanidloes and Llandrindod Wells.

Travel still beckoned the pair, however. Ann would regularly visit India to tend to her father’s grave. He had had to endure three years in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp in Tavoy in Burma – an experience likely to have contributed to ill health towards the end of his life.

She also accompanied Roy during the month he spent in a voluntary capacity in Guyana as a technical adviser with the British Executive Services Overseas charity. And a year later the couple went on another volunteer stint to North India.

And then there were regular journeys to Glasgow, where the couple had a flat so that they could be close to both their parents. And to Loch Melfort in Highlands, where they had a timeshare house.

In all the many places she lived, Ann was a great homemaker. Her hobbies included embroidery and batik making, gem polishing and jewellery making.

And she loved cooking – her Indian dishes were legendary, as was the hospitality she and Roy offered wherever they lived and to whoever visited them.

Educated in the British Cotton’s Anglican Boarding School, Ann held a strong Christian faith throughout her life.

When she first moved to Glasgow she attended the Church of Scotland but soon gravitated towards St Margaret’s Episcopal Church, part of the Anglican Communion. Ann had donated a stain glass window in memory of her mother to that church and the embroidery she completed on kneeling stools remain.

She is well remembered for her warmth, vivaciousness, great sense of humour and for the role she played, along with Ricky Ross – broadcaster and lead singer of the rock band Deacon Blue – in staging a Passion Play based on Mark’s Gospel. The singing was Gospel style and players were dressed as dock yard workers.

That link with ordinary working people was an enduring one in Ann’s life. As a young woman during summer school holidays she lived on the island of Iona, helping run the kitchens for the Glaswegian workers who enabled the reconstruction of the abbey from its former ruins.

She is survived by her husband Roy, niece Rachael and nephew Andrew. Her brother Gordon and his wife Barbara pre-deceased her.

KAY SMITH