Hard-working Jean is still going strong 100 years on

Jean Kerr enjoys her 100th birthday celebration
Jean Kerr enjoys her 100th birthday celebration
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JEAN Kerr, a popular figure at Sir James McKay House residential home, has celebrated her 100th birthday.

When reasons are given for increasing life expectancy, improved working conditions over recent decades are often cited.

This can’t be the case with centenarian Jean Kerr.

Aside from a bit of hearing difficulty and the odd memory lapse, the great-grandmother is healthy and followed her birthday celebrations on Thursday with a 60-strong party at the weekend.

This is despite raising her two children alone and holding down a range of unpleasant factory jobs to make ends meet.

She was rewarded after her retirement with an extended sunshine holiday in California – which lasted 18 years.

Now she is back living in the Capital where she raised her two daughters, with the help of her own mother.

Her daughter, Mary Deas, 69, said: “She married during the war but it didn’t really work out, so she ended up raising us herself.

“Of course, she had to support us so she had a few different jobs – some that were pretty unpleasant, all of them in factories.

“It wasn’t really all that common at that time for a woman to do that and, of course, single mums didn’t get any support at all back in those days.

“She used to go out to see my sister in California. Then, when she was 69, she just decided to stay there.

“It was quite surprising at her age, but then she was on her own and loved it out there. She settled in and got in with some other expats and made a life for herself.

“Then, after about 18 years, she just decided it was time to come back and got a home in Gorgie.”

Born in Edinburgh in 1911, she spent much of her life in the Stockbridge area.

From Mary and other daughter Doreen Dennis, who flew back from California for the occasion, she has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, many of whom attended the celebration at the home on Saturday.

Among her employers down the years were Airlight Engineering and the old Smiths Bakery in Hawkhill.

Mary added: “She worked hard all her life and she really deserved that time in California.

“But one of the main reasons for her living so long is she always thought of everything in moderation.

“She seemed to think a little bit of everything does you good, but never too much.

“If she had a bar of chocolate she’d have one square of it, wrap it up and put the rest away for another day.

“Most other people would eat the whole thing.”