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Canon Dorrie Firmin

by
10 April 2015

The Very Revd Gerald Stranraer-Mull writes:

CANON Dorrie Eleanor Firmin, who died on Palm Sunday, 29 March, aged 95, was a remarkable person - the sort of indefatigable English woman upon whom the Empire was built - but one whose natural humility never allowed her to think of herself as such.

She lived in Ashstead in Surrey, and later in Wonston, near Winchester, where her ashes will eventually be brought. But, after the death of her beloved husband, Dick, whom she had met during the Second World War while both were serving in the Royal Air Force, she moved north to be nearer her younger son and his family, and, at the age of 75, was ordained as one of Scotland's first women priests.

The move from Hampshire brought her to Ythanbank, a widespread farming area in Buchan, Aberdeenshire, and this very proper English woman soon won the hearts of children, their parents and grandparents, through her work as secretary in the small primary school at the centre of community life.

Her wisdom and friendship also made her a valued member of the congregation of St Mary-on-the-Rock in Ellon, the nearest town. Along with another southern émigré (now also ordained), Dorrie founded a flourishing Mothers' Union branch, and later became President of the Diocesan Mothers' Union.

She was also pleased to find that the Rector of St Mary-on-the-Rock was Chaplain to RAF Buchan near by, and she became a welcome guest at many social events in the officers' mess, although she would never mention her wartime work at Bletchley Park. In church, school, the RAF base, and the wider community, it was her gentleness, acceptance of people with all their foibles, her wisdom, sense of fun, and kindness that endeared her to all.

When non-stipendiary ministry developed in Scotland, it was clear that, despite her age, Dorrie was a natural candidate. She was ordained deacon in 1988, aged 68, and priest in 1994, on the first day that it was possible for women to be so in Scotland, and became an Hon. Canon of Aberdeen Cathedral in 1997. She formally retired in 1999, on her 80th birthday, although her ministry continued for the rest of her life.

She leaves two sons - one in Aberdeenshire and one in Cornwall - and two grandchildren, and god-children, who include Noel Tredinnick, Director of Music at All Souls', Langham Place, in London.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

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