Community loses one of its leading lights

Lady Peggy Sutherland shares a joke with her carer and companion Eunice Gqozo.
Lady Peggy Sutherland shares a joke with her carer and companion Eunice Gqozo.

Peggy to most and Granny to many, Embleton has lost one of its best known figures with the death of Lady Sutherland.

Much of her life had been devoted to community service of one kind or another – particularly as a councillor, magistrate and leading figure in numerous local activities.

Lady Peggy Sutherland

Lady Peggy Sutherland

Her death peacefully at home on May 4, at the age of 101, marks the end of an era in the village.

She leaves two sons, 10 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

Born in the East End of London and working as a child’s nurse, Peggy arrived in Embleton in 1944 when the family she was working for moved to avoid the Blitz.

A couple of years later, the shy nanny of Sir Ivan Sutherland’s best friend became a farmer’s wife, a mother and later a central figure in the community life of Embleton.

Peggy’s new life brought many challenges, one of which was understanding the Northumbrian dialect. Friends visiting from London often imagined that the farmworkers were German ex-prisoners of war.

She steadily became more involved in village life – the Women’s Institute, parish, district and county councils councils, and many other public duties besides, including Harbour Commissioner, magistrate and prison visitor.

After her husband Sir Ivan died in 1980, she also found time to make a round-the-world trip with her eldest grandaughter.

Son William described his mother as a very practical and level-headed person with a very strong sense of public duty and a determination to do what she could to contribute to village life. Patience and dogged perseverance were her greatest virtues.

She worked hard through several decades to preserve many of the features of Embleton that are taken for granted today. The Sutherland family owned all the coastal strip between Craster and Beadnell and, despite constant public pressure, refused to create car parks and allow development.

The family also owned Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Course and kept it going for many years after the war, despite financial losses. In 1961, the family donated the coastal strip to the National Trust in the hope that the unspoiled dunes and beaches could be protected in perpetuity.

A funeral service will be held for Lady Sutherland at Embleton Church on Tuesday, May 29, at 2pm, and afterwards at the Creighton Hall. No flowers. Donations, which will be shared between the village school and the Creighton Hall, can be made at Moody’s Shop or at the funeral.