Obituary: Irene Watson, 72

Irene Watson
Irene Watson
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Tributes have been paid to Irene Watson, a star of TV show The Beechgrove Garden, who has died at the age of 72.

For eight years the award-winning flower arranger gave demonstrations on the BBC show.

Mrs Watson was born Irene Ellis in Haddington, East Lothian, in 1939. She attended school at Knox Academy, winning the Intermediate Dux in her third year before leaving after her fifth year, with five Highers, to study at the Edinburgh College of Art.

In 1961 she married Hunter Watson, a mathematics teacher at Ross High School in nearby Tranent. They had two sons, Bill, born in 1962 and Ken, who came along in 1965.

Just weeks after Ken’s birth, the family moved to Aberdeen and Mrs Watson began to develop her interest in flower arranging.

In 1978, she won the inaugural Midland Bank Flower Arranger of the Year competitions. She competed in national flower arranging competitions annually from 1977 to 1995 and in 1996 the Scottish Association of Flower Arrangement Societies reported she was “top of the league for most prizes at national competitions.”

Her success in becoming the first holder of the Flower Arranger of the Year title led to her being invited to give demonstrations of flower arranging on the television series The Beechgrove Garden. She appeared on the show regularly for eight years from 1979.

Mrs Watson always remained in close contact with East Lothian. Her husband said: “She visited Haddington every year until her mother died in 1993 and she visited regularly once our oldest son moved there in 1998. She loved Haddington and East Lothian very much. She also collected postcards and had a large collection of postcards from Haddington. A dealer from Dunbar paid hundreds of pounds for her collection.”

As well as being a flower arranger, Mrs Watson also created pressed flower pictures. One of these was presented to the Queen Mother in 1974 when she attended the 150th anniversary show of the Royal Horticultural Society of Aberdeen.

Mrs Watson had taught flower arranging and craft activities for most of the time that she lived in Aberdeen and was involved with a card-making group when she was unexpectedly taken ill.

She passed away earlier this year following a short illness.

A memorial bench has been placed by the River Tyne at Haddington, between the Stevenson Bridge and the weir, at a spot that held fond memories for her. Her ashes were scattered nearby.

Mr Watson said: “She was an incredibly talented woman. Everything she did she did well.

“She was very determined and a bit of a perfectionist; she didn’t do things by half.”