One of Perthshire’s most celebrated traditional singers: Nell Hannah

One of Perthshire’s most celebrated traditional singers, Nell Hannah, has died at the age of 93.

She was active to the last, releasing her fifth album at the age of 90 and earlier this year publishing her autobiography.

Born in Turriff in 1920, Mrs Hannah moved to Perthshire with her family during the war, where with her mother and sister she worked at Stanley Mills.

The naval career of husband George (Harry) took the family to England, with many years spent in Lowestoft, but they returned north in the 1960s.

Mrs Hannah trained as a nurse at Stracathro and went on to be a psychiatric nurse at Murthly Hospital and Perth’s Murray Royal until her retirement.

It was only then that she was able to indulge her passion for music and singing.

Her son Phil recalled that a teacher at Turriff once told her she “couldn’t sing for toffee”, but said her family always knew her to have a wonderful voice.

It was not until she was 69 that her musical talent became acknowledged outside her circle of family and friends.

Recognition came swiftly after she attended a music festival with a friend who was visiting from America.

They persuaded her to enter a competition that she went on to win so impressively that Grampian television invited her to film a programme for them. Work with the BBC soon followed.

Over the years she became a respected figure in the Scottish traditional music scene, singing at festivals, concerts and charity events.

There were also five albums, the first produced on cassette when she was 70 and the last recorded and released three years ago.

Her biography, Aye Singin’ An Spinnin’ Yarns, produced with Margaret Bennett and long-time friend Doris Rougvie, was published in September.

Mrs Hannah is survived by her children Thyrza, Phil, Robert and John, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

She was active to the last, releasing her fifth album at the age of 90 and earlier this year publishing her autobiography.

Born in Turriff in 1920, Mrs Hannah moved to Perthshire with her family during the war, where with her mother and sister she worked at Stanley Mills.

The naval career of husband George (Harry) took the family to England, with many years spent in Lowestoft, but they returned north in the 1960s.

Mrs Hannah trained as a nurse at Stracathro and went on to be a psychiatric nurse at Murthly Hospital and Perth’s Murray Royal until her retirement.

It was only then that she was able to indulge her passion for music and singing.

Her son Phil recalled that a teacher at Turriff once told her she “couldn’t sing for toffee”, but said her family always knew her to have a wonderful voice.

It was not until she was 69 that her musical talent became acknowledged outside her circle of family and friends.

Recognition came swiftly after she attended a music festival with a friend who was visiting from America.

They persuaded her to enter a competition that she went on to win so impressively that Grampian television invited her to film a programme for them. Work with the BBC soon followed.

Over the years she became a respected figure in the Scottish traditional music scene, singing at festivals, concerts and charity events.

There were also five albums, the first produced on cassette when she was 70 and the last recorded and released three years ago.

Her biography, Aye Singin’ An Spinnin’ Yarns, produced with Margaret Bennett and long-time friend Doris Rougvie, was published in September.

Mrs Hannah is survived by her children Thyrza, Phil, Robert and John, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

THE COURIER.CO.UK 11 December 2013 5.15pm