Born: November 22, 1942;

Died: June 7, 2021.

ANNE Brown, who has died aged 78, was a journalist and broadcaster who dedicated her professional career to radio and, among numerous other accomplishments, helped propel the Wigtown Book Festival toward the international reputation it now enjoys.

Described by colleagues as the doyenne of Scottish broadcast journalism, Anne had an association with the BBC going back 60 years, beginning her time as a trainee with the broadcaster in 1961. Radio news was the love of her professional life, whether at the BBC newsrooms in London or Newcastle, at the World Service, or for Radio Scotland in Glasgow, Selkirk, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dumfries or Orkney, or helping to establish the Corporation’s community stations, Radio Tweed and Radio Solway.

Alongside her work at the BBC, she had phenomenal energy and determination to get things done. She became the first Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Wigtown Book Festival in 2007, after an already long association since its founding in 1999, and was its most avowed champion.

As a young mother living in Newton Stewart with two children, she founded the Scottish Pre-School Playgroup Association. She was a driving force behind the 2009 production, Voices of War, in aid of the veterans’ charity, Combat Stress. And in recent years she took a leading role in Forth Valley U3A, the organisation dedicated to learning among older people.

Anne Brown was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1942. She was the first child of Dr Charles and Edith Brown, who was a qualified nurse. The couple had fled to Australia from their home on Ocean Island in the Pacific and were part of the Australian Army effort throughout the war.

At the age of three, Anne was brought to County Durham with her mother, and the family was reunited when Dr Brown came home and settled them in Gateshead, where he was to serve in General Practice.

Attending primary school in Gosforth and completing her education at Queen Margaret’s School in York, Anne excelled in English and was soon successful in applying for a traineeship at the BBC. For the next six decades she had a relationship with the broadcaster that was the central narrative of her working life. Like all long relationships it was often fractious but she remained committed to the organisation, and to public service broadcasting most especially.

Deeply devoted to radio, it was while working in Orkney that she embarked on what was to be her most significant achievement in journalism when she took up coverage of the scandal that was to dominate the islands for years to come.

In the early hours of a dark winter morning in February 1991, nine children from four families, and aged between eight and 15, were taken from their homes by local authority and police officers in response to allegations of abuse with a supposed ritual satanic element – allegations that were vehemently denied by the children and their parents.

Anne’s work was both dogged and comprehensive and her reporting for BBC radio was instrumental in bringing to light vital aspects of the developing story. The children were returned home by Sheriff’s order after a single day of court proceedings.

Anne followed the case through the civil courts and the 1992 inquiry report by Lord Clyde which sided with the Sheriff’s findings and exonerated the families while strongly condemning the authorities involved.

Having built strong relationships with the parents, Anne literally wrote the book on the episode when she published Orkney: A Place of Safety?, though for contractual reasons the BBC required that she use a pseudonym – Robert Black.

Political journalist James Cusick, then a correspondent for the Independent newspaper, remembers: “This was a complex story that required resolve to see past wild rumour, to establish facts rather than accept innuendo. Anne did exactly this. Throughout, she was willing to sacrifice the cheap headlines others fell for, and instead sought out the reality and institutional flaws that lay behind this uncomfortable saga.”

On the 25th anniversary of the Clyde Report, as programme editor of the Sunday edition of Good Morning Scotland, I asked Anne to pull together a radio documentary on the story.

Demonstrating her devotion to news as well as her astonishing capacity for work, she refused the opportunity to rely on archive material and immediately laid plans to fly to Orkney. There she conducted the last interviews the families would agree to and, in a piece of work collated and edited in between other production shifts in the newsroom, brought the story right up to date.

It was a phenomenal piece of work for anyone, let alone a supposedly retired woman in her seventies.

That was just one example of what everyone who worked with Anne Brown recognised, her extraordinary appetite for news and hard work. Despite increasing infirmity she produced an election hustings programme for Dumfries as recently as April.

She was also noted for her kindness and sense of humour, and is particularly remembered by younger colleagues who benefited from her help and advice as well as her personal warmth. She was a dedicated and long-standing member of the National Union of Journalists and a staunch ally of the NUJ during industrial disputes.

Former Newsnight and Good Morning Scotland presenter Isabel Fraser remembers her as “Funny, witty and wise, highly intelligent and vastly experienced. Anne was generous to all her presenters but especially so to her female colleagues.”

Broadcaster and author James Naughtie recalls Anne’s devotion to radio. “She recognised the intimacy of the medium and how it could reach the audience like nothing else. Anne was a real professional and being remembered with such fondness by young colleagues she helped and nurtured is as much as any of us can ask.”

It is the lot of the radio producer to work anonymously but Anne’s peerless career delivering news to audiences in an accurate, unbiased and often entertaining way leaves a legacy unmatched in Scottish broadcasting.

Anne Brown married twice and is survived by her children, Jo and Richard, and her seven grandchildren.