I’ve never been one to duck my duty

Helen Divine feeds her flock at Dedridge Pond

Helen Divine feeds her flock at Dedridge Pond

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For more than 20 years, every day come rain or shine, West Lothian pensioner Helen Divine has fed the ducks in her local pond.

And now the 81-year-old has been honoured for her devotion to the birds in the Dedridge Pond by having a bench named after her.

Helen Divine on 'her' bench with Goldie.

Helen Divine on 'her' bench with Goldie.

Mrs Divine’s friends, many of whom are members of the Dedridge Environment Ecology Project (DEEP), surprised her one morning when she turned up at her usual feeding time.

Wilma Shearer, 74, secretary of DEEP, said: “The bench was put in in May as part of the nature trail. Helen always says, ‘that’s my bench’, so we thought it would be lovely if it really was her bench.”

The group recently arranged for an inscribed plaque to be added to the bench, which reads “The Helen Divine Bench”.

Mrs Divine, who lives in Dedridge, was delighted when she arrived at the pond around a fortnight ago to discover that the bench – funded by DEEP – had been named in her honour.

The great-grandmother of three said: “I feel like royalty, having my name on a bench. It was a lovely surprise.

“My grandchildren and great-grandchildren are thrilled to bits. They phoned me and said, ‘Gran, now you’re famous’.”

She added: “I used to say the only thing wrong with the bench was that my name wasn’t on it, but I was just saying it as a joke. I didn’t realise they would actually do it. It was very nice of them.”

Mrs Divine is currently feeding more than 20 ducks, two swans and two cygnets in the pond every morning.

She orders large bags of swan and duck feed, and also leaves little parcels of sweetcorn along the side of the water.

“Two four kilo bags of [feed] keep me going for quite a few months,” she said. “The seagulls love it too!”

Mrs Divine walks to the pond with her dog, Goldie, a 13-year-old miniature dachshund, coming along for company. After retiring from her job as a cook supervisor at Sighthill Primary School at the age of 59, Mrs Divine, a mother of three and grandmother of seven, put back her usual feeding time of 6.30am to around 9am.

She added: “A few months ago, someone else started taking over on a Sunday so I can get a break for a day.

“I have watched the birds having their young and learning to fly. If I’m late, they come to find me and start walking along the path.”