Alec is shipshape as he celebrates 100th

Alec Chalmers, with the boat he made, marks 100 years. Picture: Jon Savage
Alec Chalmers, with the boat he made, marks 100 years. Picture: Jon Savage
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A VETERAN who served on a minesweeper during the Second World War has marked his 100th birthday.

Alexander Chalmers, known as Alec, saw in a century in style with a swing band, tea dance and a piper at his home in Lennox House, Trinity.

He was born on August 13, 1915, and was the middle child of eight including one brother and six sisters. He attended the Capital’s James Clark Public School while living in Dalkeith Road.

Daughter Sandra Roulston said: “He’s quite shy, very self-contained and takes everything in his stride.

“He’s always kept very busy. He still has an interesting life, going out on minibus trips with residents, and enjoying regular visiting musical entertainers,

“He participates in activities such as general knowledge quizzes, enjoys the garden, weather permitting, and reads the Evening News every day.

“He likes music of all kinds and played mandolin and guitar until arthritis in his fingers made it difficult.”

His father John Chalmers was foreman for Nelson’s Printing Works on Dalkeith Road and invented some of the printing and bookbinding machinery there.

Mr Chalmers gained a Day School Certificate Higher in 1930 and joined the Royal Navy in 1939, sailing on a trawler which had been converted into the minesweeper and convoy escort ship Viviana.

He sailed to Iceland and to Cape Town and Durban in South Africa, and was demobbed in 1945.

He married Diana Murphy on April 8, 1941.

They had two children, Alec and Sandra, and four granddaughters, Claire, Celia, Olivia and Vanessa and one great-grandson, Lorenzo.

After the War, Mr Chalmers worked first for Hotpoint as a domestic appliance repair engineer and then for the South of Scotland Electricity Board from their Portobello offices at the then power station. Mr Chalmers then moved into a new house at Clermiston in 1954 and lived there until four years ago when he moved into Lennox House. He retired in 1981 at 65 years old. His wife, Diana, died 20 years ago.

He enjoyed walking well into his 90s, especially along the coast in East Lothian, and restoring old cars.

Mr Chalmers cycled until he was in his mid-80s and sailed around Scotland on the tall ship Jean de la Lune.

He was an early member of Cramond Boat Club, joining in the 1930s, and used to make and sail model boats. A member of the Inverleith and the Levenhall Model Boat clubs, he competed regularly in competitions until his 95th year.

He even took a model boat with him to the nursing home where it has pride of place in his room. He built it himself from an apple tree in the garden after the tree had to be pulled down.