Obituary: Rachel Peterkin, 98

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Rachel Peterkin, daughter of an Edinburgh legal family and founder of an award-winning museum, has died, aged 98.

Rachel Mary Watson was born in the Capital on April 2, 1916, into an. Her birth coincided with a Zeppelin raid on the city.

Her father, the Hon Adam G Watson, was an Edinburgh lawyer and both her grandfather and his brother were Law Lords.

Her mother Gwendolen was the daughter of Sir Richard Lodge, the distinguished historian whose siblings included the physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, the mathematician Alfred Lodge and Eleanor Lodge, the first woman to be awarded an Hon D. Litt from Oxford University.

Just two years after her birth, her mother died during the great flu epidemic of 1918.

Educated at Sherborne School for Girls, Rachel married the son of a Forfar doctor, William Conon Grant Peterkin, known as “Co”, at St Giles’ Cathedral in 1937.

The couple moved to Fife and began married life together in St Andrews, where Co worked as a solicitor with Pagan, Osborne and Grace.

At the outbreak of war Co, who was a talented cricketer for the Grange Club in Edinburgh, joined the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry and was attached to the 15th/19th Hussars.

On his way to France he was captured in Belgium early in 1940 and was held as a prisoner of war.

Their first child, Dinny, was born in May 1940 and first met her father on her fifth birthday at Leuchars Station when he came back from PoW camp in 1945.

After his return, two more daughters, Hilary and Elisabeth, followed.

The family moved to Ceres in 1947, where Rachel was able to indulge a passion for gardening, which she inherited from her father. She bought two neighbouring fields and created a large garden which was later opened to the public under the National Gardens Scheme.

Her enthusiasm for horticulture did not diminish with age and in her 80s she planted a mini arboretum.

She became a county councillor and was also a Justice of the Peace.

And she was the driving force behind the Fife Folk Museum which opened in 1968 and went on to win a string of awards.

It remained an abiding interest for the rest of her life.

Her husband died in 1978 aged 68 while playing golf on the Old Course at St Andrews. In 2010, Rachel moved south to be nearer her family in Somerset.

She is survived by her two 
younger daughters Hilary and Elisabeth, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Sadly, her eldest child Dinny was to pass away in Austria just 36 hours after her own death.

Rachel Peterkin’s funeral service took place on December 15 in Somerset. A family burial was taking place in Kemback, Fife, today.