Born: August 21, 1930;

Died: February 28, 2021.

IT was just over 20 years ago, in April 2001, when the plane took off and left UK airspace. Touchdown was at 9pm in Nairobi Airport, in Kenya, where Elizabeth Waugh was met by a bodyguard who drove her through the unfamiliar African night to her destination, where there was more protection – two security men, this time – before she finally settled down for the evening.

All of which gives the impression that she was one of those distinguished personages regularly featured in the current affairs pages of newspapers. A government minister perhaps, with a briefcase stuffed with briefing notes from Number 10. Or a high-ranking civil servant, continent-hopping in order to discuss world affairs with her international counterparts.

This was not the case. Elizabeth Waugh – or Betty, as she was known to her many friends – was an unassuming lady from Glasgow’s East End, who had been employed for much of her life as a secretary in a carpet factory. She did not seek the limelight, plaudits or eminent positions. What she did care about was the welfare of children.

Betty, who has died aged 90, was the sort of devout Christian lady who gives devout Christian ladies a good name, with love for her fellow man, forged from faith in her God.

Born on August 21, 1930, in the Parkhead district of Glasgow, she was the only child of Adam, a foreman plasterer, and Mary. She attended Quarry Brae Primary School, where she was happy, then secondary school at Whitehill, in Dennistoun.

Leaving school when not yet 16, she attended Skerry’s commercial college for four months, where she took secretarial classes before the world of work beckoned. Her first job was as a junior shorthand typist where she was paid 27 and six per week working for the Scottish Amicable Building Society in Gordon Street.

After five years she moved to the James Templeton & Co. carpet factory, where she was a senior clerkess and shorthand typist. She rose to become secretary to the plant director then secretary to the managing director.

Having been made redundant when the factory moved to another site, she found new employment, which she attributed to prayer and the help of a close friend, in Glasgow University’s department of engineering, where she particularly enjoyed dealing with overseas students.

She was an industrious, diligent and conscientious office administrator, whose capabilities were always held in high esteem. But there was so much more to her than desk duties and paperwork. Her greatest impact came through her faith and an admirable capacity for friendship.

She did not come from a particularly religious background. However, a schoolfriend, Evelyn, took her to Parkhead Church of the Nazarene, where she helped in Communion. At the age of 16, at a tent meeting at Hurlet Nazarene College, she was converted and gave her life to Jesus.

Betty never married or was in a serious relationship. At one time she hoped romance would enter her life, though it never did. But the Church, and the children she met through her religion, gave her life great meaning. She taught in the Sunday School, set up a Guides group and proved to be a powerful and positive influence on the youths she worked with, often extending that influence into the youngsters’ adulthood.

She would arrange to take her groups on trips to Glasgow Airport, when it first opened in the mid-sixties, and Blantyre, to see the home of the missionary David Livingstone.

She was a person who prayed a great deal, and would often pray for those in her charge, even keeping a prayer list of those who needed help the most at any given time. In later life she would also pray for the children of the youngsters she first got to know when they, themselves, were little.

Though never loud, brash or pushy, she had a quiet charisma that attracted people to her. Youngsters who came from dysfunctional families, in which marriages had broken down, would discover a rock in Elizabeth Waugh. She was a constant presence in their life, never disappearing or disappointing them. Someone who would quietly listen to the problems of friends, colleagues and charges, then offer sound advice while never becoming judgmental.

She didn’t seek to be a leader, but instead used her practical brand of Christianity to make herself useful, very often to be found brewing tea in a Church kitchen, ensuring everything was running to order.

She undertook voluntary work for Vision Africa for a decade, which explains that visit to Nairobi. Once again, she was working with children and was based in a local orphanage. She settled in immediately, and would recall that time as “like living with a huge family”.

While there she went shopping with the children, collected money, cooked by candlelight when the electricity failed, and befriended many youngsters in dire need of love and attention, including a ten-year-old boy who was suffering from AIDS.

Throughout her life she had the ability to remain positive during hardship. With her friends, Jessie and Sadie, she enjoyed visiting distant locations, and delighted in the pleasures of a cruise. Betty also visited Russia, Spain and New York. Flying to America, she made sure to take her church hat, because her religion was never far from her thoughts, even in the Big Apple.

Her friend, Irene Hartshorn, said of her: “She was a unique and amazing person. A Christian with the true Christian spirit.”

Taken into Glasgow Royal Infirmary after being diagnosed with blood clots, she remained optimistic and cheerful, telling her friends how well she was being looked after by the nurses. While in hospital she suffered a stroke, from which she never recovered.

Elizabeth Waugh died in February, leaving behind no siblings or children, though many friends.