Aila McEwen, a key figure among the Bristol Finns, died on 22 March 2006 at the age of 66 after a short battle with ovarian cancer. The Funeral on 4 April, at Memorial Woodlands in Bristol, was lead by Pastori Kari Kanala from The Finnish Church in London. The beautiful service and reception were attended by many of Aila's friends and colleagues.
Aila was a founding member of the Bristol Saturday School, where she taught an adult class for more than 10 years, was the Chairman for several years, and a member of the Committee for most of its existence. In the 1980s she was one of the first area representatives of the Finnish Church Guild and later, until her death, a member of the Finnish Friendship Network.
In the early 1990s, Aila was the Chairman of the Finnish Church Guild (now Finn-Guild), which she successfully steered through a difficult period. Thanks to Aila and her team, the Finn-Guild survived and is now a vibrant organisation representing the interests of Finnish people in Great Britain.
After her retirement from social work six years ago, Aila joined the Finnish ladies' luncheon group, the “Mirri-kerho”. We meet informally at the Little Harp pub on Clevedon's sea front most Fridays at 12.30. Aila's vivid descriptions of her travels and the cultural events she had attended always gave us fresh ideas and provided depth to our discussions. Aila was also a valued member of our book club (meeting twice a year); her insight to any book we read was always interesting and worth considering. She was also a good listener.
Aila's calm acceptance of her own illness and the knowledge that her life was nearing its end taught us how to live our lives to the full. We deeply miss Aila’s beautiful, friendly smile and her enthusiasm for life and are forever thankful for the friendship we shared.