Coll The Coll Magazine

Article by M H (2000)

Tributes. Mary Tunnell 1906 - 2000
Mary Tunnell 1906 - 2000

The Tunnell family first came to Coll in 1950. Mary and her husband, Tony, had answered an advert for a caravan let by a Dr Rankin. He was the island doctor but several years previously had been a GP in their local area of Menston, Yorkshire. The island sounded just the right place to recharge hard worked batteries for Tony, a civil engineer, and Mary, mother of three young children. Dr Rankin advised the family that 'it would be prudent to send a long shopping list to Mr Sproat, one of the two shopkeepers, well in advance.' The caravan was positioned at the then Cornaig march gate and was the first on the island.

And so began a 49 year relationship for Mary with Coll. She recorded her memories for The Coll Magazine in 1992 of a period of time in the Hebrides, and Coll, in particular, that has witnessed changes unimaginable nearly half a century ago. A modest woman, she loved company but it was not her wont to draw attention to herself; we are most grateful for her record.

Widowed in 1979, she continued with the rebuilding of the ruin at Bousd which she and Tony had bought. She held it and the rituals of Coll holidays in keeping for the family, now extended unto the third generation. She lived to see her grandson, Will, repeat history, rebuilding Creag Ghlas next door.

She lived also to witness the death of her oldest son, John, in 1988, and that of his wife, Wendy, in 1998. With great dignity she endured such an unkind reversal of the presumed condition of mortality. She would have been the first to agree.

Essentially a 'homebird' she immersed herself in family and celebrated, especially, the achievements of Susan, John and Charles in the world of classical music. Her own love and practice of the cello as a young woman developed into a professional career as a piano teacher once her family had grown up.

In later years, unable to work in her beloved garden and despite failing eyesight, she found great enjoyment following snooker, rugby, amateur boxing, University Challenge and Count Down on television. Aged 94, and after a short illness, she has left a space in all the hearts of those who knew her - as mother, grandmother, great grandmother, mentor, musician and friend.

Coll Magazine - Article by M H

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2007 The Coll Magazine