The family of Buckie’s beloved “Mrs Chiz” have paid tribute to the retired Cluny Primary School classroom assistant, who has died aged 70.
Buckie born and bred
Daughter of jeweller William Cowie and his wife Margaret, Denise Chisholm was born on December 12 1952.
An only child, she was close to her cousins, and was raised and schooled in Buckie.
On leaving education she began an apprenticeship with Mrs Patterson, a hairdresser from Portgordon.
In July 1980 Denise married Sandy Chisholm, who was in the RAF. Though they later divorced the couple had two children, Alanna and Graeme.
As a family they moved around when Sandy was posted to various RAF bases but when they separated Denise moved back to St Paul Street, Buckie.
Happy to help out
A “stay at home mum” when Alanna was in her final year of Cluny Primary School Denise was enlisted to volunteer her time to teach knitting and to support the teacher.
Already on hand to make costumes for Alanna’s dance group, Denise was only too happy to help the school too.
“She would come in and help out, just in her free time,” said Alanna. “When I left she did the same for Graeme’s class. And she never really left.”
Eventually the informal arrangement led to Denise’s employment at the school. For almost 30 years she supported the children of Buckie.
“She was there so long the kids and their parents had been in her classroom,” added Alanna. “What started as just helping out finished with her often providing one-to-one support for children with additional needs. She loved it.”
Always known as “Mrs Chiz”, she gained a reputation for having an open door to anyone who needed help and support.
“Mum always had time for anyone who needed her. We shared her with half of Buckie at times, but that’s how she liked it.”
Over the years Denise liked to lend her support the Buckie Lyric Theatre group, where her father has also been involved. She was assistant to the musical director and liked to help out “behind the scenes” though she had performed on stage as a child.
Gran to Alanna’s son Ethan – who also called her Mrs Chiz – family remained the most important thing in Denise’s life. Even after a diagnosis of COPD she kept up with her usual routines until a broken hip led to a hospital stay.
“She ended up in Dr Gray’s for weeks and while there she developed pneumonia which caused the COPD to deteriorate,” said Alanna.
With both her children and grandson Ethan by her side, then being treated at Seafield Hospital, she passed away on October 26.
While in hospital former colleagues from the school sent a hamper which included a sparkly fleece.
“Mum was always really kind and so she really appreciated the kindness of being sent such a thoughtful gift. She was actually laid to rest wearing the fleece.
“She never liked being cold, so this was one last thing we could do for her.”
In the days following her death the family were inundated with cards, online tributes and messages saying how much she had meant to them. One of her grandson’s friends has even had “Mrs Chiz” tattooed on his chest.
Posted alongside the family’s funeral announcement were hundreds of comments.
Nickay Grant wrote: “So shocked to be reading this. So much fond memories with Mrs Chiz!! Rest easy up there, hope they have given you one of the best seats, you sure deserve it.”
Shannon Stewart wrote that she was heartbroken by the news adding: “Mrs Chiz was a lovely lady and always had a smile on her face. Such good memories.”
“Mum wasn’t just there for us – she was there for everyone,” added Alanna. “She cared so much and was always interested in what our friends, and Ethan’s friends were doing. She was just a lovely, lovely lady.
“The kids all really miss her, and we all really miss her. Everybody loved Mrs Chiz.”