Sudden loss of Edwina Beattie 'devastating'

English teacher was a firm favourite of many pupils during brilliant career

Sudden loss of Edwina Beattie 'devastating'

Edwina Beattie.

By Damian Mullan


By Damian Mullan


EDWINA Maxine Beattie was born to Edward and Mae Scott on 25 September 1968 in the Cottage Hospital, Ballymena.
As a young girl she went to the Four Towns Primary School, Ahoghill, and later attended Ballymena Academy.
Eager to pursue a career in education, her excellent A-level grades took her to the University of Ulster at Coleraine where she proudly left with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education in English with Drama in July 1991.
She began her teaching career at St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Coleraine that September.
A few weeks later, she met her future husband, Keith Beattie, at a pub quiz in the Harbour Bar, where they both lived in Portrush.
They married on 13 April 1996 in the First Presbyterian Church, Ahoghill. The reception in the Adair Arms, Ballymena, was a party that Keith and Edwina frequently recalled and, except for the curse of lockdown, they would have enthusiastically repeated it on their 25th wedding anniversary in April 2021.
After four years teaching at St. Joseph’s, Edwina was promoted to the position of Head of English, aged only 26 years old.
Over the next 25 years, she became a favourite teacher for many of her pupils. Young people who would ordinarily have struggled were nurtured through texts by Shakespeare, Orwell or Heaney towards a grade which often far exceeded their expectations.
At St. Joseph’s, she helped to stage the hugely successful Christmas musicals. Those outstanding performances of Wizard of Oz, Grease, Fame and Calamity Jane have become wonderful memories for all the former pupils, and staff, who brought them to the stage in the packed assembly hall.
Edwina committed her entire life to helping young people grow and achieve their potential. Without a young family of her own, she sponsored children in Malawi. She kept every single letter and picture that she received from the girls and boys; she never met them but cared for them deeply.
She loved the work of William Shakespeare. The house in Millgrange was crammed with copies of his plays and various biographies, textbooks, reference books, pictures, theatre posters, badges and T-shirts and anything conceivably linked with the Bard.
For over ten years, the highlight of her summer was trip to London for a day spent in the stalls at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to watch an authentic performance of one of her favourite works, while Keith sat quietly beside her, fast sleep!
Edwina also enjoyed history. She provided professional support and advice for Keith on several of his eventful work projects, helping local communities (young people and adults) to challenge their perceptions of cultural identity.
She travelled with Keith to visit places such as Galway for Armada commemorations; to Mayo and Wexford for 1798 commemoration events and to Edinburgh with the ‘Lads an’ Lassies of the Tapp’ to learn about pipers in the First World War. She became a popular visitor wherever she went, even being introduced to Taoiseach Enda Kenny on a visit to Castlebar.
She was devoted to her family and had become even closer to them during lockdown. Every Sunday, she would be gone for most of the day spending time with her mother, father, sister, nephew, nieces, great nephews, and often uncles and aunts. Those were very special times, although they could never replace the regular get-togethers before lockdown where four generations of the Scotts would often go to a local restaurant and enjoy the companionship and of a loving family.
Edwina never refused an opportunity to join her many friends for lunch or dinner. She was a vegetarian from the age of 16 and, while this limited her choice on menu, it was really the craic that she was there for. Those evenings out with friends became legendary and Edwina often brought the table to tears of laughter with her unrepeatable personal observations or irreverent tales. It was not unknown for the dinner party to be politely asked to be quiet, and regularly, they were the last to leave, the doors being locked behind them.
Edwina was greatly loved and an important part of Keith’s family. She was daughter-in-law to David and Jennifer and sister-in-law to Colin and Adrian and their families. As Jennifer had also been a teacher, both she and Edwina always had plenty to talk about and set the teaching world to rights on many occasions.
Edwina passed away suddenly on 12 May 2021. Her family would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thanks to the volunteers, officers and staff of the PSNI, Coast Guard, RNLI, Community Rescue Service and NI Ambulance Service.
“We are also forever grateful to everyone who has sent us their messages of condolence,” said Keith.
“The sudden loss of Edwina has been devastating and your loving words have helped our families through this difficult time. She was a very beautiful person and everyone's kindness, support and sympathy has been a great comfort.”

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