Shirley Waine obituary

Other lives: Amateur artist and volunteer for good causes in rural Devon

My great-aunt Shirley Waine, who has died aged 93, had a short career as an art teacher before settling into married life in rural Devon, where she pursued various artistic endeavours and volunteered for organisations including the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Shirley was born in Rochdale, Lancashire, to Ethel (nee Shaw), a shirt factory worker, and Edgar Whittles, a vegetable grower. She attended Rochdale grammar school and later teacher training college in Manchester, before gaining a post as an art teacher in Newport, south Wales. Though Shirley did not really want to be a teacher, it was the only way she could make a living from her talent as an artist. In any case, a few years after her marriage in 1957 to Noel Waine, a bridge design engineer she gave up the job.

Shirley Waine trained and worked as an art teacher, in order to continue making art
Shirley Waine Photograph: from family/Unknown

The couple soon moved to Devon, where they ended up in the village of Sowton, near Exeter, living in a lovely house, Meadowsweet, for the rest of their lives.

In Devon Shirley continued to develop as an artist, designing her own Christmas cards each year, usually of a Devon scene or stately home, and specialising in painting butterflies and moths. She and Noel were for many years members of the National Trust, as well as the CPRE, to which they devoted much time as volunteers.

Shirley was also fond of music – she played the guitar – and was a gifted cook, as was Noel. They both enjoyed walking in the countryside, going to the theatre and reading detective novels, especially those of the late PD James.

After Noel’s death in 2017 Shirley had five more happy years at Meadowsweet, despite missing Noel deeply. She continued to attend events in Sowton village hall, where she and Noel had been active volunteers, and was a welcome guest at neighbours’ houses. The two highlights of her year were attending the local harvest festival and going to the harp concert at the National Trust’s nearby Killerton estate at Christmas.

Though less active in later years, Shirley was devoted to her garden, and was gifted at taking care of houseplants, particularly orchids, many of which she had flourishing in her lounge.

She is survived by her sister, Hazel, and her nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews.

Peter Donnelly

The GuardianTramp

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