Jean picked poignant moment to slip away after 103 years

Jean Given stuck to a set of principles she believed helped her to longevity
Jean Given stuck to a set of principles she believed helped her to longevity
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SHE entered a world where trams ran in the Capital and women fought for the vote.

Jean Lidgate Given was born in Edinburgh amid political upheaval on October 9, 1909 – the day before “General” Flora Drummond and members of the suffragette movement took to Princes Street to demand their rights.

The world has changed completely since then but Jeannie, as she was known to family, remained a constant support to those around her throughout more than a century.

She passed away peacefully on her 103rd birthday last week in Linlithgow Nursing Home, surrounded by her great nieces and those who took care of her in her final days.

She had put her amazing longevity down to a diet of wholemeal bread and liver –and abstaining from vices such as smoking and drinking.

Family members today paid tribute to a private individual who took pleasure in the 
simple things in life.

Great niece Morag MacDiarmid, 46, said: “We were just praying she would get there [her birthday] before she passed on. We knew she was close to death as she was losing lots of weight and her appetite – she always had a great appetite. My sister, Linsey, and I went to the home on her birthday. She could not speak very well but she could say ‘hi’.

“I think she was getting distressed, and my sister asked if she wanted my partner, Alan, to be there. So I called him, he came up and she was totally calm. Then we just held her hands and she passed away.”

Jeannie was born in Stockbridge, one of six children, and went to Flora Stevenson school. After finishing her education, she worked as an assistant in the sewing room at the Western General Hospital – when the names of staff were embroidered on their uniforms. She married Tom Given, a church elder from Gorgie, in 1935 and moved to Carricknowe before following him south when he secured work at a Portsmouth naval base.

She remained a devoted wife and mum – never more so than when her only son, Tommy, born in 1938, died aged 16. In 1976, three years after her husband died, she returned to the
Capital.

Morag said: “If I ever asked what was the secret of her longevity she replied, ‘wholemeal bread, liver and broccoli once a week, no smoking, no alcohol and one man in your life’.”

Alan Stenhouse, 49, Morag’s partner, said: “I think she was holding out for her 103rd birthday. And then, when it came, it was as if she said, ‘right, that’s enough – I’ve done my round of 103’, and she slipped away.”

Key events during a remarkable life

June 28, 1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria assassinated, leading to the outbreak of First World War.

January 22, 1924: Ramsay MacDonald becomes Britain’s first Labour prime minister.

December 7, 1941: The Japanese air force attacks the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

December 3, 1939: Britain declares war on Germany – outbreak of Second World War.

May 8, 1945: ‘Victory in Europe’ (VE) Day, left – European hostilities in Second World War end.

November 22, 1963: American president John F Kennedy assassinated in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald.