Teacher and prominent figure in the SNP

Born: September 17, 1946;

Died: June 2, 2019

SHEENA Wardhaugh, who has died aged 72, was a teacher, a local councillor for East Kilbride, a fighter for better child education and a pugnacious promoter of Scottish independence.

Children and her fellow teachers loved her and she became known for putting the welfare of her pupils and fellow teachers above the often-haughty or even bullying school hierarchy. She was also a trained singer – a gifted alto – and a lover of the theatre, taking part in, directing or producing operettas, pantomimes and plays for the East Kilbride Rep Theatre Club. She was a longtime and popular member of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

As a teacher, and later as a councillor, Sheena Wardhaugh was fiercely pro-Scottish independence, serving as SNP education spokesman for South Lanarkshire. She was an SNP candidate when she won her first seat, for East Kilbride Central North, on May 3, 2007.

During her last re-election, on May 5, 2017, she was still an SNP candidate. But three weeks later, she announced that she was leaving the SNP to become an independent. Those who knew said her fervour for Scottish independence had not diminished, and that her decision had more to do with the effective running of her local council.

She and her husband Jim Wardhaugh, also a longtime SNP councillor for East Kilbride, left to form a new independent grouping along with some former Labour councillors. In East Kilbride, her death, although she had been battling illness for some time, came as a shock.

Mrs Wardhaugh was a committed member of the teachers' union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and became a union rep after rallying her colleagues against a bullying head teacher. She served as national vice-president of the EIS in 2003-4, president from 2004-5 and was made an EIS Fellow for her services to teaching, one of her proudest achievements.

After retiring as a teacher, she became increasingly involved in the SNP and successfully won the seat for East Kilbride Central North in 2007. Her husband Jim had already been an SNP councillor for East Kilbride East since 1999. One of her greatest achievements, along with Jim, was the successful campaign to stop a housing development in a green belt area of East Kilbride – Colonsay Fields beside Calderglen County Park.

Just before her final illness, she campaigned successfully for free pre-school education in South Lanarkshire, something she was immensely proud of. Children will be able to get a free nursery place guaranteed as soon as they turn three.

Sheena Wallace, the eldest of four children, was born on September 17, 1946, to James (Jimmy) Wallace, an electrical engineer, and his wife Jean, a secretary. She and her siblings Gordon, Fiona and Catriona were brought up on the old Craigbank housing estate in Nitshill, south Glasgow.

Sheena went to Gowanbank primary school in Nitshill, where she was Dux, and Shawlands Academy, where she met her first husband Jim Morris, from Hamilton, and married him in 1968. She had graduated MA from Glasgow University the previous year after studying English, Latin, Greek, Logic, Moral Philosophy and Economic History. Always drawn to teaching, she did her training at the famous Jordanhill College, working at the Post Office during her holidays.

Her first teaching job was in 1968 at the David Livingstone primary school in Blantyre, south Lanarkshire. After a career break to start a family – having daughters Aileen and Fiona - she moved to East Kilbride in 1978 and taught in several primary schools including Blacklaw, Greenhills, Long Calderwood and Heathery Knowe. Her great love was preparing primary school kids for the big leap into secondary.

“When mum was just starting out in teaching, she had a primary one class (as newly qualified teachers often do),” Sheena’s daughter Fiona Quinn told The Herald. “She was talking to the class about families. One wee boy said he didn't know his mum's name so my mum said to him – ‘Think – what does your dad call your mum?’ She learned that day never to ask that question in front of a class again!

“She was a force to be reckoned with,” Fiona went on. “Sometimes that meant she was not the easiest person to get along with but if she was on your side she was a brilliant ally. She was both a big picture person and a detail person. She ploughed forensically through reams of council papers, always had a full grasp of the issues, and knew all the processes and standing orders etc like the back of her hand.

"She was good - perhaps a bit obsessive - at getting into all the minutiae that might have been boring to others, but it was all for the aim of doing the best for her constituents. She loved gardening, animals, and holidays in the Mull of Galloway with her family.”

Having divorced in the mid-1990s, Sheena met father-of-three Jim Wardhaugh when he was directing a Gilbert and Sullivan piece for the East Kilbride Rep. They married in 1997 and latterly lived in the St Leonard’ district. Before Christmas 2000, she produced and he directed the pantomime Ali Baba for the EK Rep, in which Sheena played the role of Sultana.

Sheena Wardhaugh died in University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride. She is survived by her husband Jim, daughters Fiona and Aileen, stepsons Frazer, Alasdair and Euan, and 10 grandchildren.