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Dorothy Campbell Smith was born in Partick and attended Hyndland School. She entered Glasgow School of Art in 1940, where she changed from the Painting department to study design, and specialised in embroidery and weaving. As it was wartime she spent many nights firewatching on the school roof, and during the holidays worked in forestry in the Trossachs and Argyll. On completion of the course in 1944, she was awarded the Newbery Medal for distinction in diploma work. After teacher training at Jordanhill College, she taught at Glasgow's Whitehill School from 1945-1949 and gave embroidery evening classes at GSA.
Whilst teaching at St Rollox School in 1950 she cut her finger while clearing out art room cupboards. The infection gave rise to an epidural abscess, which caused total paralysis. She spent the next two years as a patient, mainly in the neurological surgery unit at Killearn Hospital. She told her surgeons that if they could restore function to the thumb and index finger of her right hand, she could still use a needle. Other operations and Smith's fortitude enabled her to eventually regain mobility. By 1956 she had succeeded in convincing the education department that she was physically fit enough to resume teaching and was appointed to Hamilton Crescent School, followed by Hyndland School until she retired. She died in 2008.