Obituary: Tributes paid to 'energetic and creative' therapist

Cathy Maclennan was a widely respected speech therapist who left an ever lasting legacy.

Cathy Maclennan was a widely respected speech therapist who left an ever lasting legacy. - Credit: Fanny Maclennan

Friends and family of a much-loved speech therapist have shared their memories of a woman who changed droves of lives for the better.

Catherine Margery Maclennan - known as Cathy - was born in Croydon and grew up in Surrey.

She later moved to Norfolk in 1977.

Prior to arriving in Norwich, Cathy trained as a speech therapist in London where she qualified in 1970. 

Having gained her qualifications Cathy began working for the NHS as a generalist therapist at the Kent and Sussex Hospital in Tunbridge Wells, where she worked in both paediatric and with adults.

Once arriving in Norfolk she was appointed deputy area speech and language therapist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). 

She then worked her way up to be appointed district speech and language therapist at the hospital.

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Having worked as a part-time lecturer teaching aphasiology (the study of speech) at Manchester Metropolitan University she also had a post at the University of East Anglia teaching language pathology in the School of Linguistics.

Cathy left the NHS in 1995 and established an independent practise under her own name in Norwich - it grew to become one of the largest in Norfolk.

Cathy Maclennan, who had a practise in Norwich, working with six-year-old Libby Rose on her speech therapy.

Cathy Maclennan, who had a practise in Norwich, working with six-year-old Libby Rose on her speech therapy. - Credit: Rosy Rose

Cathy had two daughters, Jane and Franny, who were born in 1975 and 1976 respectively.

Franny said: "My parents got divorced when we were children and my mum brought us up on her own in Norwich. She worked hard to look after us and to have her career. 

"Mum was a very energetic, playful and creative person. She had strong views and loved to debate whatever she could.

"She was very passionate about ideas and many an evening was spent around the fire drinking wine and debating about politics or ethics."

Franny was echoed by Rosy Rose, parent of former patient six-year-old Libby Rose.

Rosy said: "We were referred to Cathy in 2018 because she had experience working with three or four children who had the same condition as Libby.

"She was absolutely brilliant and if it wasn't for her we wouldn't be as far along as we are now.

"We became real family friends and even spent my birthday with her.

Daughter Fanny said her mum was an "amazing grandmother to Millie, Jack, Raffie and Casper."

Daughter Fanny said her mum, who lived in Aylsham, was an "amazing grandmother to Millie, Jack, Raffie and Casper." - Credit: Fanny Maclennan

"I have so many lovely memories with Cathy and she has truly left a legacy."

When Franny and Jane left home in 2005, Cathy moved to Aylsham where she was "extremely happy", her daughter said.

Franny said: "Mum loved the north Norfolk coast and the beauty of the Blickling Estate.  

"She met a wonderful community in Aylsham who have been very dear friends to her - I have many happy memories of being in Aylsham with mum.

"Mum was incredibly talented at ceramics and was always passionate about art, going to London to look at the exhibits there.

"She loved gardening and had a real love for nature - particularly for the snowdrops and bluebells.  

After leaving the NHS, Cathy established her own practice in Norwich which grew to become the largest in Norfolk. 

After leaving the NHS, Cathy established her own independent practice in Norwich in 1995 which grew to become the largest in Norfolk. - Credit: Fanny Maclennan

"One of her favourite activities was walking her two lurchers in the woods at Blickling and Holkham beach.

"Mum was a brilliant baker and loved to cook for us all - she was able to knock up a cake or supper very quickly."

She added: "I see my mum as a brave and strong woman - she was deeply committed to her work and to her patients.  

"She truly loved the patients and believed passionately in the profound human importance of being able to communicate."

Cathy died at her home in bed on February 6.

Cathy Maclennan worked for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) before launching her own business

Cathy Maclennan worked for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) before launching her own business - Credit: Fanny Maclennan

Franny said: "Mum's death was very sudden - she was a very young 75 - she was still working, walking, doing ceramics, seeing lots of her friends and family.  

"It has been a complete shock for us.  

"I spoke to her the night before about sorting out a shopping list for a pending trip to Wales.

"I know many people are very shocked and saddened, and we, her family are devastated.  

"But, deep in my heart, I know that she would have probably chosen this death. Quick, dignified and she was still gorgeous, vibrant and working.

"We will miss her terribly, but she is deep in our hearts and we will never lose her presence in our lives."

As well as her daughters Cathy leaves behind four grandchildren Millie, Jack, Raffie and Casper.