Tributes for Croftamie Primary’s headteacher Ailsa Stirling

Ailsa Stirling
Ailsa Stirling

Tributes have been paid this week to an “inspiring” local teacher who devoted much of her life to education.

Ailsa Stirling was, for 22 years, headteacher of Croftamie Primary School, near Drymen.

Much-loved Ailsa passed away at the end of December aged 89 but has left a legacy of learning in a long life characterised by educational success.

Ailsa was the ONLY teacher at the tiny school in the hamlet of Croftamie in an era when “single teacher rural schools” were cherished. She was well known in the field of education.

Ailsa was born in Glasgow in 1927 and after qualifying as a teacher her first job was in the east end of Glasgow.

She also taught in East Lothian before taking on her first school as the only teacher in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. Then she came to Croftamie from 1967 to 1989.

Ailsa attended an international conference each year focusing on “Education in Sparsely Populated Areas” - from 1969 until her final attendance in Poland in 2009.

She spoke often at conferences in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and other remote areas.

Ailsa was a well-known and popular Burns speaker throughout central Scotland.

She also took up skiing in middle age and joined Bearsden Ski Club where she immersed herself completely in the Club, both on and off the piste.

After retiring aged 62, Ailsa travelled to the Arctic to the Antarctic, enjoying trips to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Nepal and the Himalayas, China, Australia and Thailand.

She was a keen and active member of Strathendrick Agricultural Society Drymen Show, a public speaker of some note and enjoyed golf, curling, table tennis, painting and embroidery.

Ailsa could always be counted upon to help those in need and collected for charities – including being the organiser of the area’s annual collection for Poppy Scotland.

Her final months were spent in Balquhidder House Care Home in Alexandria.

Ailsa regularly attended Gartocharn Parish Church and Kilmaronock Parish Church, Stirlingshire where a large crowd gathered on January 6, 2017 for her funeral.

Bearsden resident John M Watson OBE said she was “inspirational” and a “guiding light” for teaching in small rural schools.

John knew Ailsa from their time at Bearsden Ski Club where he was Club President.

John said: “Ailsa Stirling was an outstanding teacher whose devotion to the education and the wellbeing of young people defined her long and impressive life.

“She was undoubtedly a huge asset to education in Scotland bringing unrivalled knowledge and expertise to the challenge of running small schools – something she did with great distinction at Croftamie.

“Ailsa will be much missed by her family and others in education and beyond whose lives were enriched by her presence.”