Dorothy Colley McNair was a Christleton resident and a very remarkable person, not only caring for a young family, and supporting her husband Tim a respected tailor when they moved to Chester, but being inspirational in her leadership of all things creative in the area. Her influence was immense, and can be seen in her work, or in what she inspired. Her major work was to design and organise the making of the 1992 embroideries for the 900th Anniversary of Chester Cathedral. This work took five years and involved an administrative team, sewing leaders, teachers and artists in various parishes who helped with local designs for the 630 kneelers. Over 1,000 stitchers, men, women and children attended the dedication service in Chester Cathedral. She also designed and led a team of 20 skilled needle women to make the altar frontal and vestments for the Cathedral.
The unique Edwin Carr memorial frontal for St James' Christleton, based on a view of the Holy Land from space, was designed and machine stitched in 1997, with the help of a group of members from church. Dorothy was also delighted to have been commissioned by Voirrey Embroidery to produce three memorial samplers to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, D Day and V E Day in 1994.
Her designs to commemorate the Millennium included; A panel for the United Nations in Chester Cathedral, Embroideries and kneelers for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd, two panels and wedding kneelers for Burton Church, ten kneelers for the Clatterbridge Hospital Chapel, a Cushion for the Embroiders Guild 2000 project, and a new banner for the Mothers Union at St James' Church Christleton. She also produced an embroidered panel - Theme 'Air' for the new Breast care Unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in June 2003. This work incorporated the ideas and work of a group. The enlarged design was completed as a collage to tell the story of the embroidery. She also produced a set of Preaching Scarves for the Falls Church in Washington USA.
This list is not exhaustive and shows what a dynamic person she really was, despite being ill herself over a long period of time. She also had the joy of meeting, falling in love and marrying Professor Philip McNair in 2005/6 and they were able to share two wonderful years together both in Christleton at later at Much Haddam in Hertfordshire. She inspired so many in her life and her wonderfully created designs will delight, and be seen by people in the area for centuries to come. Dorothy died at Much Haddam on 16th March 2008 aged 79 years.
Dorothy was also a writer and produced many beautiful crafted pieces of writing, one of which is Air written in 2003.
Air unseen entered the room and
disturbed the candle flame.
Flickered it briefly as it passed
until it steadied its shape again.
Air became breath and turned into life
in an even rhythm calm and easy
Softly a breeze entered the room
wavering and shuddering the candle flame.
And for a moment it stopped still,
then swayed from side to side and
righted to its centre, to blaze more light,
blue, purple, gold and white.
So the flame wavered throughout the night
while those who waited, watched,
until at last came daylight.
The breath ceased and prayers were carried
Like incense for a sleeping soul as the flame died.
Yet in another room, on another night,
Air became breath as a new child cried
And joy like a flame returned its light
And the breeze dried away the weeping.