Real Lives: Tributes for ‘survivor’ Agnes at 100 not out

Agnes Telfer with her birthday message from the Queen
Agnes Telfer with her birthday message from the Queen
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Tributes have been paid to Agnes Marion Telfer, who turned 100 yesterday.

Agnes – also known as Maisie – celebrated reaching the milestone with friends and family at her home in the Drummond Grange Care Home in Lasswade. They described the centenarian as a “survivor” with an active and enduring interest in the world around her.

Born in Edinburgh’s Rodney Street, Agnes grew up in nearby Logie Green Road and attended Broughton School. She then took jobs with a range of well-known Edinburgh retailers – from JB Watsons Photographers to Romanes & Paterson in Princes Street.

It was while working as an assistant in a city-centre furriers that she met her husband, John, and the couple married in 1940.

An army serviceman, John was called to action overseas during the Second World War, and Agnes moved in with her husband’s family at their flat in Stockbridge’s Dean Bank Lane.

After the war ended, John and Agnes moved into their own flat in Dean Bank Lane, where they stayed until John’s death in 1981.

Relatives said that Agnes’s life has not been without its share of problems and challenges. In 2002 she was admitted to the Western General Hospital with bowel cancer. She fought off the disease but was re-admitted due to cancer-related complications six years later.

Despite deteriorating health, family members said Agnes never lost enthusiasm for the world around her.

“She’s always been interested in things and she cares about people,” said Agnes’s daughter, Anne Dalgleish, 63. “She likes to take an interest in them. It’s hard for her now, but if anyone was not feeling well before, she would go along and visit them. She didn’t like to see them suffering.

“She used to go to a drawing and painting class – and she was a member of a Burns club, though I’m not sure if she was a fan of his poetry. And she loved going on holidays with her sister, Ethel, who died in 1983.”

Agnes’s son Ronald, 69, said: “My mother is a vibrant person. She was always on the go. She loved to go out shopping with my wife, Renata – they were like sisters.

“Her mobility isn’t great now, but I’ll always remember her as tall and straight. She always walked like she was a youngster.”

Since May last year, Agnes has lived at Drummond Grange Care Home, where staff praised her warmth and sociability. “She loves lunchtimes and sitting in front of the television with the other residents,” said charge nurse Laarni Tolentino, 37. “She’s just a very nice lady. She always says ‘thank you’ if you do something for her.”

Paul Wilson, 44, activity therapist at the care home, said: “I just think she has a strong will and she has a loving family – you can see it when you speak to her. I think that’s the reason why she’s lived so long.”