Real Lives: Miner George hits major mark on 100th birthday

George Lavery is joined by family members on his birthday
George Lavery is joined by family members on his birthday
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George Lavery, a retired miner from Addiewell, has celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends.

Mr Lavery has lived in the West Lothian village his entire life, having been born there on January 4, 1912, in Livingstone Street.

A devout Catholic, religion has played an important role in his life from a very early age, when his parents used to walk with him to West Calder for Mass.

He left school at 15 to work in one of the area’s mines, as his parents could only afford to send one of their children to school and he was able to get a job immediately.

It was in Addiewell that he met his future wife, Catherine, who stayed across the road from him, and the pair were married in 1943 at St Thomas Church. They remained together until her death in 1991.

The couple had four children, George Jnr, Alice, William – who was born on the same day as Prince Charles, leading to many calling his mother “The Queen” – and John.

He remained a mine worker, at Foulshiels Colliery in Stoneyburn and Whitrigg Colliery in Whitburn, until he retired at the age of 62, something which his family say has certainly helped to prolong his life.

His son, George Jnr, said: “He never liked working down the pit and he had so many health problems because of it, particularly his bad back. He always told us that he never wanted to see any of us work down a mine, and fortunately none of us had to.”

George Jnr, who helped gather together the whole family – and most of Addiewell – for a birthday celebration on Wednesday, said: “My dad was actually born in Addiewell before they had a church, but it has played such an important role in his life. He always made sure he took Christmas Day off and took the family to Mass, and so on his birthday it was fitting that we went to the church before the celebrations.”

As well as his family, including his nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, Mr Lavery was joined by West Lothian Provost Tom Kerr and Almond Valley MSP Angela Constance, and also received a card from the Queen.

George Jnr said his father had seen a lot in his lifetime, from serving with the Home Guard in the Second World War to becoming the first family in the village to own a TV. “He has coped very well with all the changes, although he has never used the internet,” he said. “He had never flown until the 1970s and for most of his life didn’t have a bank account. Thanks to his family, though, he has seen a lot more of the world and it was great that so many of us could be there with him for his birthday.”

Mr Lavery was particularly proud to see the latest addition to his family – great-granddaughter Catherine O’Hara, who was born just a few weeks earlier.