A LARGE attendance to the Memorial Service held in Martin’s Memorial Church, Stornoway, on Tuesday, May 14th, stood as testament to the strength of sorrow felt by the island community at the sudden passing of Stornoway resident and business woman Ann Gracie MacCallum.
Ann’s body had been found on a beach near Swordale, Point, Isle of Lewis, by a dog walker at 8.11am on Thursday, May 9th.
Born in Lanarkshire, September 7th, 1961, Ann, aged 51 and residing in Upper Bayble, Point, Lewis, passed suddenly last Thursday, May 9th, and leaves husband Neil and son Graham.
Highly motivated and driven from an early age, Ann’s entrepreneurial skills brought her to the fore in house-hold named companies such as Marks&Spencers, C&A, Asda and Woolworths, as well as establishing a number of her own fabric and dressmaking businesses.
In 2010 she made Harris Tweed history, becoming the first female mill manager in the industry’s 146 years when she took up the position at the Carloway Mill, and helped move the cloth forward into a new fashion market.
And despite the loss of Woolworths to Stornoway town centre, Ann’s thriving WeeW store ensured a community-led presence remained on the high-street.
Out-with her business success, Ann’s ‘big heart’ lent support to many charitable events and endeavours, most recently including her support and promotion of The Big Minch Swim in 2012 in aid of Stornoway RNLI, and the Great Island Bake Off event in January this year which raised funds for the Lewis branch of Cancer Research.
A lifelong supporter of Action for Children, Ann also opened her home, offering respite and care to many in need.
Leading the Memorial Service, Rev Tommy Macneil said: “Her memory should be a challenge and inspiration to us all.”
Speaking on behalf of Ann’s family, her elder brother Bob thanked the island community for the ‘sincere kindness, compassion and generosity’ shown and added: “I never really understood before her loyalty to this island – but now I do.”
Members and staff of the Harris Tweed Authority were ‘extremely saddened’ by news of Ann’s death, as Chief Executive Lorna Macaulay said: “Ann had a particular passion for supporting and growing the value of the craft and artisan sector and has left a legacy in this regard.”
And the Rotary Club of Stornoway said: “The Rotary Club of Stornoway were deeply saddened to hear of the sad passing of Mrs Ann MacCallum, a well known and respected member of the business community in Stornoway.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ann’s family and friends at this sad time.”