Sylvia Stuart who provided inspiration to generations of children at Crieff Road nursery, in Perth, has died aged 81.
She was a social worker and nursery leader responsible not just for the welfare of the children but often some of their families.
Sylvia had a lifelong passion for gardening and together with her husband, Bill, created a landscaped garden in the grounds of the nursery.
For two years in the 1990s, the couple were winners of the Perth In Bloom garden competition and they went on to play active roles in the Beautiful Perth committee.
Sylvia was born in 1942 near Buckie to farmer Kenneth Bowie and his wife, Ella.
She was educated locally and then went to work looking after children in one of the big estate houses.
Sylvia met her future husband when he came to do work on her father’s farm. They married in Keith in 1960 and had two of a family, Kenneth and Pauleen.
They set up home in Fife Keith where Bill worked for the Glen Keith distillery. In 1965 he joined the prison service and the family moved to Inverness.
A move to Glenochil near Stirling followed and then Bill was posted to Perth Prison and the family moved to the city in 1978.
Work with children
Sylvia began work at a children’s home in Nimmo Avenue during which time she studied and qualified as a social worker on day release in Dundee.
It was after she gained her qualifications that she was invited to join Crieff Road nursery which had a catchment taking in a deprived part of the city.
Her daughter, Pauleen, said: “It was because of her social work qualification that she became the link between children and their families and would often go on home visits to assess families’ needs.
“It was a job she loved and even in later years, children, or even their children, would remember mum and speak.”
Sylvia eventually retired when she was around 55 but continued to work on a supply basis for another five years.
The couple’s garden at their Hillend Road home won Perth In Bloom’s best front garden category in 1995 and 1997 and Sylvia went on to became a local judge for Britain In Bloom.
Pauleen said: “My mother also volunteered with Perth and Kinross Council and took part in litter picks, often with pupils from Perth High School.
“My father was a volunteer too and helped paint roundabouts when St Johnstone were in Scottish Cup finals and he painted the front of the historic JS Lees fruit shop on the old bridge in Perth.”
Sylvia, a member of Letham St Mark’s Church, also worked on gardening and horticulture projects with offenders serving community payback orders.
Support for orphanage
One of her biggest commitments was raising money for an orphanage in Zimbabwe, a connection made through her husband’s brother, a former prison governor in the country.
“They started off selling jams, cakes and serving teas in their garden and moved on to garage sales until the events became too big and they had to stop. Over the years they went to Africa to visit the orphanage seven times.
“My mother had a love of children and also the outdoors and did her best to get children to enjoy the outdoors too.”
Sylvia and Bill were grandparents to Louise, Ross, Greig and great-grandparents to Ellie and Harriet.
You can read the family’s announcement here.