Catherine Hollingworth, speech and drama therapist; born February 1904, died July 25, 1999

After completing her training at the Royal Academy of Speech, Catherine Hollingworth started to develop an interest in speech therapy, which she herself had required following an accident.

She started her teaching career in speech training at St Margaret's School in Aberdeen in 1927 and then taught in her home town of Forfar before moving to London, where she spent some time at King's Cross Hospital observing the work done by surgeons who were using speech therapy on their patients after throat operations.

After learning all she could she opened up her own practice, teaching elocution and speech therapy, mainly for children.

The onset of war in 1939 meant most of her youngsters were evacuated and she returned to Aberdeen in 1941 where she was appointed as speech specialist for the education department.

The following year she founded The Children's Theatre, which went on to develop an international reputation.

She had the theory that if you allowed children to play only to children, with no adults in the audience, their creativity and imagination would be much greater.

''This was proved to be the case,'' said her former deputy, Mr Alan Nicol, who wrote her biography Tilting in Windmills in 1991.

''If there are adults in the audience the children act as adults expect them to act.

''She was absolutely in the forefront and she started the Festival of Drama and the Spoken Word which still goes on today and in which children perform to other children.

''This was really startling and people came from all over the world to observe her methods, and she really did influence the whole world of child drama.''

She was an innovator and was awarded an OBE for her work, and Mr Nicol described her as ''formidable'', with the ability to persuade the council to back her ideas.

Thousands passed through the Children's Theatre and the Longacre Players youth theatre group, which she also established, including several who went on to the dramatic and even political stage.

They include David Rintoul of Dr Finlay fame, former Coronation Street producer Brian Park, and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, then a pupil at Aberdeen Grammer School.

Miss Hollingworth, who had not enjoyed good health in recent years, died in Rowan Nursing Home in Aberdeen.