Obituary: Angela Booth Dobbie, disability campaigner, 74

Angela Dobbie didn't let her disability stop her leading an active lifestyle
Angela Dobbie didn't let her disability stop her leading an active lifestyle
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AN adventurous disability campaigner and nurse has died at the age of 74.

Angela Booth Dobbie, nee Wilkie, was born in Edinburgh in October 1937, the daughter of an Australian mother and a Scottish father.

She spent the war years in Australia with her mum while her dad served in the Royal Navy.

After the fighting came to an end she and brother Alexander returned to Scotland, where sisters Mary and Susan were added to the family.

Angela trained as a nurse at Middlesex Hospital in London, where she was selected to be a ward sister, and became engaged to her future husband John Dobbie.

But shortly afterwards she suffered a setback when she was diagnosed with neurological sarcoidosis, a form of inflammation which could attack virtually any part of the body.

A progressive illness, Angela was forced to depend first on a walking stick and then a Zimmer frame before, finally, a wheelchair. She had to give up her nursing career, but John was determined they should be married and they tied the knot at St Cuthbert’s Parish Church in Lothian Road on January 12, 1963.

They raised two daughters, Clare and Lisa, before Angela became wheelchair bound, something which in fact turned out to be a liberating experience for her.

She took up various activities such as solo yachting on the Firth of Forth, paragliding in Cyprus, safaris in South Africa and cable cars on Table Mountain in the Swiss Alps, as well as travelling regularly to Australia.

But Angela also had a serious side, and used her experience to help others affected by disability, becoming a member of the Scottish Access Committee and the Access Panel for Edinburgh, which both aimed to improve access to public buildings for the disabled.

She went on to become the chair of Artlink, a charitable organisation set up to help elderly disabled people take part in all sorts of activities. She was also a board member of the Royal Infirmary Trust.

Angela also found the time to become an author, dictating her text to cassette recorder as she developed her autobiography Both Sides of the Fence.

She was once quoted as saying: “I believe strongly that it is up to us who are disabled to explain in a pleasant way, not to be confrontational, but to help others understand our various difficult situations.”

Angela, who died on June 23 in Edinburgh, is survived by John, Clare and Lisa, her soon-to-be 100-year-old mother Ida Wilkie, her brother and two sisters and various Wilkies and Booths in Scotland and Australia.

At her memorial service at the same church where she married John, her daughters said: “We know you will be smiling down on us today and we will remember you always as the wonderful lady with the beautiful smile.”