Lady Isabel McNee; born June 22, 1929, died August 29, 1997

LADY Isabel McNee was a distinguished Christian lady whose friendship, frankness and candour, humour and indomitable spirit were much valued by her friends.

She made her own unique contribution to the lives of two men, her father, the late Robert Hopkins, and her husband of 45 years, Sir David.

Born in Glasgow in 1929 to Robert and Isabela Hopkins, Isabel was from her earliest days under the influence of parents who embraced the Christian message and the dynamic principles of the Bible.

Robert Hopkins owned a grocer's shop in Garscube Road and in his spare time was a lay preacher and for more than 40 years ran a remarkable Bible class in Barlinnie Prison which reached and blessed many. He was to use the Bible term ''a soul winner''.

The family home in Garnethill was a centre for hospitality and kindness and during the years of the Second World War was open to servicemen from all over the country. The gift for hospitality rubbed off on Isabel and became a feature of her own married life.

Isabel became a Christian as a child and was baptised in Wolsley Hall on Easter Sunday, 1943. She attended Woodside Senior Secondary School where David was also a pupil, though Isabel was quick to point out he had left many years before she joined the school.

David and Isabel met at a Sunday evening open-air meeting in Sauchiehall Street, conducted by the late Charlie Clark, and were married in 1952. Before her marriage Isabel was a company secretary, a post which stood her in good stead for what was to follow in the challenges which emerged from public life. As an accomplished pianist she played for David as he sang at church services across the country with the late Rev Tom Allan and the late Rev George B Duncan of St George's Tron.

Throughout her husband's career, as he rose through the police ranks in Glasgow to become Deputy Chief Constable of Dunbartonshire, thereafter Chief Constable of Glasgow, then Chief Constable of Strathclyde, and Metropolitan Commissioner of London (probably the most responsible police post in the world), Isabel McNee coped with resource, sensitivity, and support.

In his book McNee's Law (published by Collins in 1983) David McNee said of his wife: ''During our marriage Isabel always put my needs as a police officer first. She has never failed me.'' Attending the many social occasions as wife of the commissioner became opportunities for Isabel to share her faith with several who, despite the glitter of these occasions, were seeking answers to the deeper issues of life.

Isabel had her own agenda of interests, particularly with a number of charities such as Kids In Need & Distress, Cancer Relief, the Sir James Robertson Trust, the Police Dependants' Trust, Stars Organisation for Spastics, and many others.

In all the MacNees' charitable endeavours, she played a full role. Nowhere was this more true than in the work of Billy Graham where Sir David has been chairman of Mission Scotland since 1991.

Matthew Hudson, chairman of the board of KIND, said: ''Lady McNee was a Christian beacon with a bright flame, fuelled by faith and determination. She showed us all how to help those less fortunate than ourselves.''

It's one thing to have faith when life is going well but when death-threatening illness invades it can be a different story, but not for Isabel McNee. Her life-long daily habit of reading the Bible and prayer developed a confidence in a sovereign God who was always in charge.

Four years of battling with blood disorders and latterly acute leukemia did not daunt her faith. Her chief concern was for her family. She had no fear of dying, her only regret was the parting and separation from those she loved so dearly.

The life, work, and influence of Isabel McNee were highly regarded in church

fellowships where she was a member. They were represented at her funeral yesterday at Anniesland Hall, by St George's Tron and Allander Evangelical Church.