Memories of a dedicated woman

Brenda Calderwood M.B.E..
Brenda Calderwood M.B.E..

TRIBUTES have been paid to a tireless worker and supporter of Northumberland’s lifeboats, who has died at the age of 91.

Brenda Calderwood MBE MA, passed away peacefully in hospital on Monday, July 18, following a short illness, having dedicated decades to the RNLI service at Seahouses since joining the management committee in 1965, serving as a member and secretary.

Together with her late brother Derek, Miss Calderwood had been responsible for setting up the fund for the current Mersey Class Lifeboat at Seahouses, RNLB Grace Darling, timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the heroine’s Farne Island rescue.

She was well-known at RNLI Headquarters at Poole and had worked closely with the Grace Darling RNLI Museum at Bamburgh, where she acted as secretary until 2008.

Miss Calderwood was awarded a Silver Badge for her fund-raising efforts in 2000 and served on the Seahouses Guild from 1965 until 2003, as well as acting as branch chairman from 1981 to 1992.

Latterly she had become very frail, but even with advancing years and increasing frailty, she still insisted on selling RNLI Christmas cards and calendars to the fellow residents of her Abbeyfield Sheltered Housing in Bamburgh and to her friends, to raise money for the RNLI.

Seahouses RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Ian Clayton said Brenda was a strong character, who will be sadly missed by all who knew and worked with her.

“We are all deeply saddened by Brenda’s passing,” he said. “She was a lovely lady, totally committed to the RNLI, and her energy and initiative were amazing. We have lost a greatly valued supporter, the likes of which we may not see again.”

Outside her RNLI life, Miss Calderwood was principal careers officer for Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Education Authority for 32 years and was awarded the MBE for services to education.

She was educated at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Church High School for Girls, where she was head girl, and Newnham College, Cambridge, graduating with a degree in history.

During the Second World War, she was second in charge of 5,000 firewomen, operating between Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Scarborough.

After the war, she became the governor of two Newcastle comprehensive schools for 30 years, as well as governor for 30 years of Newcastle Church High School for Girls, where she was chairman for 15 years.

She also sat on the Northern Regional Advice Council for Further Education, the Northern Regional Examination Board and the Newcastle Polytechnic (now University of Newcastle) Careers Advisory Board.

Miss Calderwood was President of the National Association of Youth Employment Officers in 1955 and chairman of the northeast branch of the Association.

A funeral service was held at St Aidan’s Parish Church, Bamburgh, yesterday, followed by cremation at Newcastle West Road Crematorium.