Tributes flood in after sudden death of community champion

Marilyn Henderson of Kilchrenan, who died on July 17.

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Tributes have flooded in after the sudden death of a woman renowned as one of the best community representatives that Oban and Lorn has ever known.

Marilyn Henderson, of Kilchrenan, who for many years was the volunteer secretary of Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council, died on Friday July 17, within days of falling ill.

Blood tests revealed the shock news that the 72-year-old widow, who was taken to Lorn and Islands Hospital after feeling unwell, had terminal lung cancer.

Community council chairman John Fleming said: ‘She will be sadly missed. She had a heart of gold and liked to support anything that was going on.’

Mrs Henderson had taken a step back, since taking time out to nurse her husband Graham, who died after losing his own battle against cancer three years ago. However, in her heyday, she was a woman renowned for her admirable ability to politely take politicians and government officials to task, as she sought to look after the best interests of the community that she loved.

Councillor Elaine Robertson, chairperson of Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee,
said: ‘Marilyn’s death is a huge loss to Kilchrenan and the community, she kept everybody informed of what was happening and was a lovely person.

‘She was one of the linchpins in the community, whether it was about the village hall, the church, or anything else, she kept the community up to date with all the significant events.’

The Reverend Tom Telfer, minister of Kilchrenan Parish Church, where Mrs Henderson was an elder, said: ‘She was at the heart of Kilchrenan, she not only lived at the heart of it physically, she was a communication hub.

‘This is absolutely a big shock and Kilchrenan will feel it for some time. Often you can categorise people, but I have never met anyone like Marilyn, she was just unique.’

Mrs Henderson hadn’t been seen out much since lockdown but she was still emailing her many contacts regularly.

Her neighbour Anthony Phillips discovered she was unwell when he went to deliver shopping to her.

He said there had been no prior warning that his good friend was so seriously ill and added: ‘I was going into Oban so I asked if she wanted anything and she asked me to get her some fruit.

‘I was away for about three hours and found when I got back that she had collapsed in the chair. She said she felt weak and had phoned the doctor. She was taken to hospital and it was discovered after blood tests that she had terminal lung cancer and it had spread.’

‘We had been friends for almost 30 years and like everyone in the village my wife and I are struggling to  come to terms with what has happened.’

Mrs Henderson is survived by her brother, Michael Andrew, who lives in Stirling. Her funeral will be held at Kilchrenan Parish Church cemetery at 1pm on Friday (July 24) and the cortege will drive through the village, prior to the graveside service, to allow people to pay their last respects.