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The Nicolson Institute’s flag flew at half-mast yesterday (Monday 12 February) as a mark of respect after the passing of former teacher Christine MacCuish.

English teacher Miss MacCuish joined the school shortly after qualifying as a teacher and rose to become assistant principal teacher of English.

She remained at the Nicolson for many years, moving to Lews Castle School as Head of English until it closed in 2002, then returning to the English department at the Nicolson until her retirement.

The school’s social media announcement said that staff were saddened at the news, adding: “Many tales of Miss MacCuish have been shared amongst former colleagues and former pupils today, all of whom remember her with the greatest fondness.

“Christine was a teacher who inspired many learners throughout her career. She will be missed by many.”

Former department head Tom Clark wrote: “Very sorry to hear this news. Christine was a very supportive member of my department for many years, and dearly loved by her colleagues and pupils.”

Former colleague Zena Stewart said: “Christine was a very lovely, pleasant colleague who was very kind. The kids loved her.

“She was a really good teacher who made sure the kids had all the information they needed, however they were likely to use English for their future.

“Christine was very organised in her teaching and a highly respected member of staff.”

Other former colleagues recalled her as a character in the staff room, and remembered her support to them as probationer teachers, with a direct manner and tremendous energy.

And there were numerous tributes from former pupils after yesterday’s announcement from the Nicolson Institute.

One said: “My first English teacher - she was very inspiring - she believed so much in her students, that we were all capable of great things. It stayed with me always.”

Others described her as a ‘brilliant,’ ‘lovely’ and ‘humble’ teacher, credited with getting people through their Highers and with other academic achievements, but also with creating great school memories and with always remembering former pupils by name.

Christine’s father was Rev Angus MacCuish, a minister at Stornoway High Church, ordained on 6 December 1950.

In their own tribute, today’s church congregation said: “Over the following 73 years, Christine played a central role in the congregation.

“Her courage and boldness in standing up for what was right was an inspiration to many, matched only by an impish sense of humour which often had us in stitches. Christine was loved of God and she loved her God, so we do not mourn as those who have no hope.

“Beyond that, she was loved by generations who passed through the Nicolson Institute's English Department where her bubbly, winsome personality won her the lifelong respect of even the most mischievous of brats.

“And she was deeply loved by the congregation to which she devoted her life. To many, Christine MacCuish was the High Church. We are the worse for losing her, but Christine has ‘gone to be with Christ which is much better.’”

Christine is mourned by her brother Alasdair, sister Catherine, nephews and nieces and a wide circle of former colleagues and pupils who remember her dearly.

The pictures show Christine’s portrait (Nicolson Institute) and Christine with Maya Maciver and the Rev Angus MacCuish Memorial Trophy, awarded following Maya’s success in the Advanced Higher religious, moral and philosophical studies exams in July last year (Stornoway High Church).