Real Lives: Variety being the spice of life works for Margaret

Margaret Fraser enjoyed a party for the occasion. Picture: PETR NEHYBA
Margaret Fraser enjoyed a party for the occasion. Picture: PETR NEHYBA
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MARGARET Fraser, an Edinburgh woman whose working career spanned more than five decades and several jobs, has celebrated her 103rd birthday.

Mrs Fraser, who was employed as a zookeeper, a dinner lady, a factory supervisor and a cleaner over a 50-year period, enjoyed the momentous occasion in the comfort of North Merchiston care home last week.

She was born in Leith in 1909 and grew up with her two sisters and brother in Hamilton Street, which has since been demolished.

However, her remarkable working career began at Edinburgh Zoo at the age of only 14.

Her niece Sandra Stevenson, 61, from Sighthill, said: “She absolutely loved working there.

“It’s also where she met her husband David, who became a zookeeper too, before he went off to fight in the Second World War.

“When David left, she got a job in a biscuit factory and became supervisor there until the war ended and he returned home.

“They lived in Stockbridge together, and she then went to work doing the school dinners at the local primary and was also a supervisor there.

“She was a very independent woman.”

Mrs Fraser retired at 65, but shortly afterwards got a job cleaning the house of an insurance manager until a tumour on the back of her ear forced her to stop working altogether.

Sandra told the Evening News that a variety of hobbies were the main reason behind her aunt’s longevity.

She said: “Margaret loved the dancing, she did it all the time. Loved doing the waltzes and the cha-cha-cha.

“She was dancing until she was in her 90s, every week at the bowling club in Colinton.

“She never drank and she never smoked either.

“Margaret also enjoyed knitting and sewing, and she loved holidays with her husband to Scarborough and Blackpool.

“One of her friend’s daughters moved to America and now works in the White House, and she calls Margaret regularly to keep in touch.

“She tries to call once a week for a blether, and that keeps her going.”

Margaret and David, who never had any children, were one of the first couples to move into the sheltered housing scheme at Colinton, and they lived there together for 31 years.

Although David died more than 20 years ago, Mrs Fraser has maintained her independence.

Sandra said: “Before she was moved to North Merchiston, she lived on her own in the Colinton housing scheme until she was 101 years old.

“Margaret doesn’t like any fuss, but for her 100th birthday we had everyone round at her sheltered housing, maybe 70 people in all, for a small celebration. It was wonderful.

“She’s a lovely lady.”