For most of her life Ann Brown was at the centre of Kemnay life. Whether teaching Sunday School, running Brownies or preparing the church for Remembrance Day, Ann devoted herself to serving others.
Her family and friends now pay tribute to the “kind and humble” woman who “gave her life to the church”.
Kemnay born and raised
The fourth of six children for Kemnay railwayman William Brown and his wife Peggy, Ann was born on April 20 1942.
Brought up in Thain’s buildings on Station Road, she was close to her younger brothers Ian and Jim, and especially loved spending time with her grandparents.
Educated entirely at Kemnay School, the village would remain her home for her entire life.
From childhood Ann attended church in Kemnay. First at Sunday School which met in a wooden hut in the garden of a house on Victoria Terrace – then into the church hall. She progressed to teaching classes before accepting responsibility for the entire Sunday School.
Others before herself
She began her working life in 1957, at Isaac Benzies’ store in Aberdeen, as a cash desk assistant. After a year she moved on to Kemnay Co-operative in the drapery department. A similar role in Inverurie followed before a final switch to car firm Lawrence of Kemnay, within the service department. Ann would remain a receptionist there until she retired.
Ann would never marry, instead she dedicated her life to family, Kemnay Kirk and helping people who crossed her path. Serving as an elder and a presbytery elder, Ann attended the General Assembly in Edinburgh for many years.
A dedicated Brown Owl and Guide leader over four decades, picnic organiser, honorary member and chef for the men’s fellowship and avid recruiter of volunteers for church activities, there were very few facets of church life in Kemnay that weren’t made better by the involvement of Ann.
She was a member of the Guild, and also enjoyed ministry trips to Lebanon and the Holy Land, keeping in touch with those she encountered in places that became special to her.
Ann was also pivotal in the setting up of Loaves and Fishes becoming the manageress of the cafe on a voluntary basis for many years.
‘No one could refuse her’
Sheila Simpson, a friend of Ann’s, paid tribute to her long time Kirk companion.
“We cannot talk about Ann’s life without mentioning her work in the Loaves and Fishes café at the church centre. She volunteered for many years and raised large sums of money for local causes.
“Again she pulled in those volunteers. Who could refuse her?
“She loved her Kirk. She instigated the wonderful curtain of poppies that hangs in the church when we hold our Remembrance Sunday event.
“Her presence is everywhere in our Kirk. She was a friend and teacher and example to us. She will live on in our hearts and minds.”
People were her passion
In 2006 Ann and her brother Harry moved into sheltered housing in Littlewood Court. Assuming the role of organiser she became the driving force behind entertainment and catering for special occasions.
Though close to her family, Ann relished being part of her “chosen” church family too. She was especially close to the Buchan family enjoying Sunday lunches with Jim and his wife Mary, before she passed away in January.
She was a Cliff Richard and Andre Rieu fan and always had a fun character. A letter was recently found revealing her correspondence with the Duke of Kent in the hope of securing Wimbledon tickets.
And the “Passion” play at Oberammergau was Anne’s destination of choice four times.
Woman of faith
Following a series of “mini strokes” Ann was admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in July. From there she moved to the stroke rehabilitation centre at Woodend, where she remained until late November. Jesmond Care Home provided a comfortable environment for her final days, added to by the care and dedication of her family.
Surrounded by family Ann died peacefully on Monday November 27 aged 81.
Ever the organiser, Ann had planned her own funeral many years earlier, choosing her favourite hymn – In Christ Alone. A verse of this was read aloud, through tears, by Jim Buchan.
In his blog Jim wrote about a recent sermon that reminded him of Ann. Based on a Bible verse from the book of Matthew it said that whatever you do to help “the least of these” you actually do it for Christ.
Jim added: “I am certain that this is basically saying that our conduct on this earth will have some impact on our eternal destiny. I know that Ann gave so much of herself to serving the community, church and ultimately in doing so, honouring her Lord and Saviour. When she meets her Lord He will say to her “well done thy good and faithful servant”.
Described as “irreplaceable”, a Christmas tree formed part of the funeral in honour of her love of Christmas.
Ian Brown, Ann’s brother, added: “I have always known how wonderful my sister was, but hearing all the tributes and about all the incredible things she did has been quite astounding.
“Ann never wanted fuss or acclaim, she just lived for her Lord and her church, and never forgot to love and care for us as well.
“She was some woman. We could be here all day talking about everything she was and did.”