Real Lives: Jean keeps playing it for laughs on 100th birthday

Jean shows off the card she received from the Queen
Jean shows off the card she received from the Queen
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A great-grandmother with an “amazing” sense of humour has celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends.

Jean Forth marked the milestone with a party at the city’s Southpark Retirement Home yesterday, where she has been a resident for more than three years.

Family, friends and residents at the home enjoyed a buffet and music to celebrate her special birthday.

Jean was born in Newtongrange, Midlothian, and grew up in Portobello, attending Towerbank Primary School.

She lived in the Northfield area of the city for around 50 years before moving to the retirement home in September 2008.

Her husband, Frank, whom she married in Edinburgh at the age of 17 in July 1929, passed away more than 20 years ago at the age of 81. He was in the Royal Artillery and stationed at Piershill Barracks when they met.

The couple had three children together – Frances, Bob and Margaret – six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Jean, who enjoys listening to Scottish music, had a variety of jobs over the years, including working as a nursemaid and doing clerical work in the Edinburgh war office.

Jean’s great-grandson, Steven Manson, 28, a civil servant who lives in Leith, said: “She worked for the council part-time in the late 1970s and early 1980s, helping to take kids with special needs on trips.”

Jean also volunteered at the Cancer Research UK shop in Portobello for around eight years until she was in her mid-80s.

Steven said he found his great-grandmother “fascinating”.

He added: “She’s quite a cheerful person. The year she was born was the year the Titanic sank. She was just a baby, but it’s still difficult to get my head round how old she is and what she’s seen and all her stories.

“Before the Second World War broke out, my great-grandmother and great-grandfather moved down south and when the war broke out, she brought their kids back up to live with her mum in Portobello.”

Steven put his great-grandmother’s longevity down to a “determined personality” and “get on with it” attitude.

Charlene McDonnell, senior carer at the retirement home, said it was a pleasure helping to care for Jean.

Jillian Dunnett, 44, also a senior carer, added: “Jean is a right character, she’s unbelievable. She still makes her own bed and she winds us up something awful.

“She has a brilliant personality and a fantastic relationship with the staff. Jean is just an amazing character.

“She shouts constantly out of the window to passers-by that she’s not getting fed. She is hysterical.

“Everybody loves her. We all call her granny.”