THE branches of their family tree certainly don’t spread far from the roots.
For the Harpers, a reunion means simply stepping outside their front doors — because five generations of them all live in the same town.
In the decades they have been in Whitburn, West Lothian, the only members of the clan to head for pastures new soon performed a U-turn.
The eldest member the family, great-great-grandmother Jessie, recently celebrated her 101st birthday, while baby Zak, the youngest, is just five months old.
Jessie’s daughter, Margaret, 77, said: “We’re a very close family. There are definitely benefits to living so close to all of your loved ones.
“I’m registered blind because I have glaucoma, and it’s so much easier when you have your family near.
“Being together as a family is so important — we know people who never get to see their grandchildren.”
Born in Fauldhouse, Jessie moved to Whitburn in 1972 with her husband John, a talented bowler who scooped gold in the 1982 Australia Commonwealth Games.
When Jessie’s daughter, Margaret, met her husband, John Harper, who comes from Whitburn, they too decided to set up home there.
After her husband died, Jessie decided to move to a sheltered housing complex in the town’s Mansewood Court, where she still lives more than 20 years later.
Also living in Whitburn are Margaret’s sister, Jeanette, brother Bobby, son Derek and wife Anne, grandson Mark — who lives with son Zak and partner Kerrie — and granddaughter Yvonne.
Margaret added: “None of us have really ever thought about moving, we’re really happy where we are. My grandson, Mark, got a job in Glasgow and moved there with his partner Kerrie, but they weren’t happy so they ended up coming back to Whitburn and they’ve now bought a house here.”
As proof that the family that stays together, plays together, the Harpers regularly gather on the open seas, with Jessie only giving up her cruise holidays last year. “We’re a big family and most people in the town know who we are, even today,” said Margaret.
“I worked at the Co-op office and I knew all the people who were coming in to pay their TV licences and things like that.
“With John being a really good bowler, we were very involved with the club, and we went to church.”
And, as far as Whitburn goes, the Harpers are in it for the long haul yet.
“It’s a really friendly wee town where people will stop and speak to you — a great place,” said Margaret.