Dietician, caterer and fundraiser;
Born : March 13, 1931; Died October 15, 2012
Ann Smith, who has died aged 81, was a dynamo of a woman whose passion for the hospitality industry supported and enthused generations of young workers across Scotland.
A dietician, who once toured with a company of young actors including Maggie Smith, she went on to establish her own successful catering business and open an award-winning restaurant.
She later played a key role as a fundraiser for hospitality industry charities, helped to fund accommodation in Glasgow for young catering workers and was seemingly unstoppable in retirement, running an exclusive mini-restaurant from her own cottage, securing lottery funding for her local village hall and becoming treasurer of The Food Trust Scotland.
Her twin traits of foodie and well-organised perfectionist were inherited from her grandfather, Joseph Hicks, a restaurateur and leading event caterer in Essex, and schoolteacher father respectively.
Born in Edinburgh, she was evacuated as a schoolgirl during the war and after leaving school in the late 1940s went on to train as a therapeutic dietician at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary's School of Dietetics. During the summer holidays in 1952 she toured with the Oxford and Cambridge Players, coping with the problems of food rationing and theatre life in Oxford, the West Country and at Riddle's Court during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
A framed poster for the Players' performance of The Taming Of The Shrew still hung in her home, autographed by the cast including the then Margaret Smith, now Dame Maggie, and Frank Windsor, later the Z Cars actor with whom she kept in touch for many years
Her final year, before qualifying, took her to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London and her first official appointment was to Stracathro Hospital near Brechin where she spent three years as senior dietician.
In 1957 she married her husband Andrew Smith, a district commissioner in The Gambia. The couple lived the colonial life for three years but the marriage foundered and they returned to Edinburgh where she took a post in the Western General Hospital's dietetic department.
But in 1962 her professional life took a change of direction when she accepted the post of caterer at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre. A few years later she started her own outside catering business, Town and Country Catering which took off so well that she opened a restaurant, under the Town and Country banner, in the capital's William Street.
Further expansion resulted in her opening another kitchen, just behind the Palace of Holyrood House, and as the event side continued to grow she found herself catering for functions for up to 400 guests, attended on occasions by members of the Royal Family.
Highly regarded in her field, she then opened a larger restaurant in Edinburgh's Rose Street Lane North which she ran for several years.
During her time in the restaurant business she twice won a best restaurant award during the Edinburgh Festival and trained scores of youngsters who went through her kitchen apprenticeship to become leading chefs. Eventually, partnership difficulties resulted in her selling the Town and Country business around 1980 but she set up again in another kitchen in Edinburgh.
Later in the 1980s she became involved in the Scottish arm of the Hotel and Catering Benevolent Association, forerunner of the Hotel Industry Trust Scotland (HITS), a charity supporting and encouraging excellence in the hospitality industry.
Based in Glasgow, she threw herself into working in a fundraising role. She was involved in the provision of budget accommodation, in the PM Club in Ruchazie, for young people who wanted to work in catering.
"She did a wonderful job for the industry," said Fergus Chambers, one of the founding trustees of HITS. "She was a very caring individual, a very supportive individual and a tireless fundraiser. She was a fantastic character and made a huge contribution to the industry. If you got a phone call from Ann Smith you knew you had to do something,"
She lived in the village of Carlops, in the Pentland Hills, for many years, where in retirement she was not one to sit still. She provided high quality dining in her own cottage and continued as a consultant for Arthur Bell, joining him in The Food Trust Scotland, as treasurer and trustee of the organisation set up to promote the natural goodness, culture and heritage of Scotland's fine food.
Community life was important to her and she contributed to the Community Council and Carlops Village Centre, to the Borders Tweeddale area's Community Volunteer Service, Community Safety Panel and Village Halls Federation.
She was the main editor of a local newsletter and ran the monthly market at the Carlops Village Hall, the building she had campaigned so relentlessly for, helping to win lottery funding and raise £250,000.
Small, grey-haired and bespectacled, she remained a woman not to be trifled with: someone who got things done, often by persuading others to do exactly as she wished.
A Hallowe'en lunch party was held in the village hall in her memory this week, replete with batwing rolls, toad tart and spider pate, of which she would no doubt have thoroughly approved.
She is survived by her nieces Lindsay, Aileen and Frankie and nephews Ron, Tony and John.
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