Caroline Smilie 1932-2013

by Gareth Bryan-Jones — 3rd May 2013.

Caroline Smillie died in Stirling Community hospital on Thursday 2nd May 2013 aged 81 years. Caroline had suffered a series of strokes since last Christmas.

Caroline was one of the early stalwarts of FVO and continued as a key club member for more than 30 years. Caroline was an Arts and Crafts teacher at McLaren High School in Callander and, with Liz Youngson another McLaren teacher, latched on to orienteering as something that interested her and could interest and inspire schoolchildren.

Amongst her squad of McLOCs (McLarenOrienteeringClub) were Keith Masson, an orienteer who has won titles in most age groups, Douglas Campbell and Mike Cantley – now the Chairman of Visit Scotland and very influential in Event Scotland, a subsidiary of Visit Scotland. Perhaps one of the reasons Event Scotland is so keen to support Orienteering, including the 2015 World Championships.

For many years – almost so many I cannot count them, Caroline was the editor, and possibly the founder, of the FVO magazine – the “Forth Columnist”. She certainly continued beyond the club’s 25th anniversary. In the days before electronic communication the written word was the way we shared information. Six times a year the Forth Columnist appeared in the letter box – full of details of forthcoming events, past events, club member’s experiences, ideas and thoughts.

Caroline had an empty (of cream eggs) cream egg box in which she would store contributions from FVO club members. She would appeal for articles – “my cream egg box is empty – I need you to fill it with your contributions”. Caroline described her own contributions as “peat for yer lugs” which totally devalued the wit and content of her writings.

Caroline made massive contributions to the 6-day event. I don’t know if you have noticed the excellent standard of the signage used at 6-day events, I certainly have. Caroline was involved, as I remember from the beginning in 1977, as the provider of signs. She insisted, quite rightly, that the impression people had of an event would be strongly influenced by the quality of the signs. No scribbled, last minute signs would be entertained. Whoa betide the organiser who displayed a sub standard sign. Caroline designed and personally made the clearest signs I have seen for any event.

I remember at Tayside ‘85 watching Caroline carefully stencilling signs late into the night, fortified, Caroline not the signs, by the occasional G & T. Signs ordered at the last minute by Day Organisers, who were chastised in a friendly manner by Caroline for their tardiness – but told in no uncertain terms that they had to wait for the officially produced sign.

Somehow between making signs Caroline found time to work at many 6-day events at the Information tent – for the last time in 2009. Here her wealth of knowledge about how everything worked at the event was absolutely invaluable.

Caroline was a competitor too. I think she claimed to have never run. I am not sure about this as on certain occasions I have seen her in the forest going much faster than a walk – I suspect she thought no one was watching.

Trish Cooke is organising a spray of orchids, which Caroline loved, for her funeral, on behalf of FVO members.

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