On 20th January 2017, the North-east lost one of its most ardent supporters of its culture and heritage with the death of Cecilia Penny.
She was better known by the affectionate name of ‘Bunty’.
Born in 1932 and bought up on the family farm at Newmachar, Bunty was educated at Ellon Academy and Aberdeen University from where she graduated MA in 1953. A year at the Teacher Training College was followed by a short spell of teaching at Tillydrone, until the wanderlust took Bunty off to Montreal for a teaching post there.
During seven years teaching in various Canadian schools, Bunty met former Aberdeen University colleague, Bruce Penny; romance blossomed and they returned to Aberdeen to be married in King’s College Chapel. Later, permanent return to Scotland saw the family set up home in Fife and the birth of their only son, Alan. After Alan’s birth Bunty continued her teaching career with playgroup and nursery schools. Further diplomas in teaching children with learning difficulties followed. A return to Aberdeenshire, where husband Bruce took over the shop in the village of Hatton (Cruden), saw Bunty involved in setting up the first schemes for teaching children with learning difficulties in the Ellon area.
With the opening of a special school in Fraserburgh, Bunty joined a group of other dedicated teachers dealing with children with behaviour or emotional problems, a task she lovingly carried out for 16 years until her retirement.
Following the disposal of the shop in Hatton the family retired to Stuartfield where Bunty was able to devote her whole time to her great passion, the history and culture of her beloved North-east.
Her interests led her to be actively involved with many local organisations including Buchan Heritage Society where she was a regular ‘storyteller’, Buchan Field Club, Ythan Speakers’ Club, Buchan Writers Group, Buchan Tourism Group, Epilepsy Support, BBridge, Buchan Countryside Group and many others. She was particularly interested in supporting the use of the Doric and was a long time Trustee of the Charles Murray Memorial Fund, giving many talks on the life and work of Murray, her favourite poet.
The instigation of the Book of Deer Project saw Bunty take a major role in promoting the book and its historical significance to the North East, organising and giving talks, seminars, visits and lectures on its history and importance. She was a dedicated member of Deer Parish Church where she could be seen seated in the choir even on the Sunday before her death.
The major achievement of her retirement was the collecting of information, writing, editing and publishing her magnum opus, ‘Stuartfield, our Place’ a definitive story of her adopted Crichie and its people.
Bunty’s passing will be a great loss to the many organisations she supported and encouraged, her enthusiasm for the local culture and dialect was unsurpassed and perhaps her life can be summed up in words from her own pen in her beloved Doric:
Fa’s this in the mirror?
Fa’s this in the Mirror
Far’s the quine I eesed tae be?
Slim, black haired an wi dancin ee.
There’s a wifie noo, in front o me
Wi a lot o her life gone, an mair –
Fat an fair!
Bit, doon herted I’m nae:
I’ve lived life tae the brim,
Gled that I’ve travaillet,
Made mony gweed friens,
An deen a gey lot – a hullick o things;
Gled that I’ve loved an been loved in return
Niver smug wi life, Bit contented I’ve been.
Aye! That is the same quine!