Real Lives: Annie celebrates 100th with help of her family

Annie Doonan marked her centenary with Mass and a family lunch
Annie Doonan marked her centenary with Mass and a family lunch
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A West Lothian woman is celebrating her 100th birthday. Annie Doonan celebrated the milestone event last month with the help of her four children.

Annie was born in Broxburn in 1912 and was the oldest of eight children, three girls and five boys, born to Willie and Mary Martin. She spent all of her childhood in the town, attending both the local primary and secondary schools.

She harboured dreams of becoming a teacher herself, but as the oldest child of a shale miner she was unable to fulfil her ambition.

After leaving school at the age of 14 or 15, she worked in Crawford’s restaurant in Edinburgh.

Her future husband, Charlie Doonan, was also from a family of eight living in Broxburn. The pair knew each other from early in their lives, with both families attending the same church.

In October 1939, at the age of 28, she married Charlie following a five-year courtship. The newlyweds then moved to Sighthill where they raised their four children.

Their oldest child, Winifred, was born in 1940, shortly after Charlie had been posted to Blackpool with the RAF in the Second World War. After his return daughter Anne was born in 1945, followed by son Laurence in 1947 and another daughter, Frances, in 1952.

The family was supported by Charlie as he worked as a hardware buyer, while Annie remained at home as a full-time mum.

When her children were grown up Annie returned to work part-time, this time at Patrick Thompson’s department store – which is now the Carlton Hotel on the North Bridge – where she served in both the babywear and clothing departments.

After her husband’s death in February 1972, Annie continued to live in Sighthill.

Her only granddaughter, Elizabeth, was born to Anne in December the same year.

She was an active member of the community and a devout parishioner of St Joseph’s Church in Broomhouse. For a number of years she was a member of the church choir.

Annie still enjoys listening to music and chatting about old times with her family and friends who visit her in St Joseph’s House, Gilmore Place, where she has lived since 2010.

To celebrate the milestone birthday, family arranged a party for her.

Daughter Winifred said: “On her actual birthday they held a special Mass for her at St Joseph’s House and then we had a family lunch. Then we had an open day so all her friends could come and see her.

“Everyone gathered for a party to congratulate her on this momentous occasion. Celebrations were also held in New Zealand where her granddaughter and great-grandchildren, Ralph, Tyler and Zara, live. She’s always been outgoing and sociable and I think that’s what keeps her going.”