Obituary: Ruth Sinclair, 86

Ruth Sinclair. Picture: contributed
Ruth Sinclair. Picture: contributed
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A dedicated children’s charity worker has died, aged 86.

Ruth Sinclair was a pocket dynamo whose determination to help vulnerable youngsters became a lifelong passion.

She served the charity now known as Children 1st for most of her adult life, from fundraising for its League of Pity as a young woman to becoming senior vice-chair, dispensing her clear views and valuable experience with a natural intelligence and wit.

Despite being a busy mother raising four boys, she also found time to support the establishment of the Children’s Panel, run a bed and breakfast from her home, host fund­raising coffee mornings and even acquired her own assay mark through a silversmithing course.

Born on September 27, 1927, in Edinburgh, the daughter of an oil worker whose job took him to various parts of the world, she went to a school in Queen Street, later known as Mary Erskine’s. But her education also took in spells in Jerusalem and Beirut and the Cape Town, where she was sent after the outbreak of the Second World War.

She left school at the end of the war and returned to Scotland to go to Edinburgh University. After graduation she did some social work and some teaching, married her husband George, a teacher whom she had met while at university, and settled down to family life, living first in Bridge of Allan and later in Skye, Dundee and Troon.

The family moved to Edinburgh in the mid-1970s. Mrs Sinclair was involved with the Children’s Panel and the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, later Children 1st. She became a board member of the charity and supported the Children’s Shelter in Polwarth Terrace, fundraising and helping with activities. She served as a vice-chair, then senior vice-chair of the RSSPCC and in June 1998 was made an MBE for her services to the care of children.

She was a member of Palmerston Place Church, where she was on the congregational board and the property and finance team. She was determined to make the church more accessible and became chair of the pastoral and social committee. Widowed in 1987, a couple of years later she was made a church elder and encouraged other elders to train to handle bereavement and other pastoral issues.

She also volunteered at a St Columba’s Hospice shop. But the core of her life was her home and family. As well as the bed and breakfast, she cared for her mother and was devoted to her four boys, their wives and eight grandchildren. Each son lived in a different country – Scotland, England, France and the US – but she organised a week-long family gathering each new year.

Predeceased by her husband and eldest son Kenneth, who died in 2008, she is survived by her sons Colin, Gavin and Malcolm, her brother Glenn and extended family.