SHE has a work ethic that defies her age. But now, after 30 years employed as a cleaner in a sheltered housing complex, 84-year-old Jemima Hedley has finally announced she is hanging up her tabard.
Nicknamed Mina, the grandmother-of-one, who was at least 20 years older than some of the residents, spent decades sprucing up Viewpoint Housing in Gillespie Crescent and credits a daily swim for her enduring vitality.
Mrs Hedley elected to keep working for so long because “no-one said to leave”.
She said there had been many improvements to the centre over the years and the arrival of carpets put paid to hours spent washing and scrubbing hard floors.
The early-rising workhorse, whose day begins at around 6am, is expected to hand in her notice in the coming weeks and plans to visit Gracemount Leisure Centre more frequently in retirement.
“I go swimming a lot – three times a week with the Swimming Women – which really helps keep up my energy levels,” she said. “Of course, I will miss Viewpoint when I retire, I have enjoyed all the years that I worked.
“It’s just always been happy memories and a happy atmosphere.”
The Gilmerton resident began her working life at the grocers Musselburgh and Fisherrow in Newcraighall before becoming a nanny to a family in Grange Loan during the Second World War.
She married her late husband, Freddy, at Hunter Square in 1949 and a year later had her first son, Andrew, now sadly deceased.
Mrs Hedley began cleaning the Edinburgh University campus in King’s Buildings and accepted a second job working at Viewpoint Housing. Aged 70, she retired from the university position but continued to work eight hours a week at Gillespie Crescent.
“Nobody said to me to retire so I just kept going,” she said. “Now all my friends have retired and they are always saying ‘it’s time you gave up’.
“My son, Alan, is also always telling me to retire.”
She added: “I go swimming nearly every day which helps me keep fit and I’ll find something to do when I’m not working.”
Maureen McSherry, supporting housing officer at Viewpoint, said Mina would be sorely missed.
“She always has a smile on her face and never complains,” she said. “Being here for 30 years is a great achievement and it’s probably very unlikely that is going to happen again. It’s going to be really strange not having her around. She’s actually cut her hours for the last month and even that’s been strange.”
Mina’s top home tips
• When a clumsy guest drops red wine on the carpet, immediately sprinkle the area with salt which provides time to deal with the spill before it stains.
• Potato skins can be used to buff off any mineral deposits from dull-looking glasses after dishwashing.
• Rub white bread to remove dirty fingerprints from dirty walls.
• Vases can be cleaned with two tablespoons of dry rice and add eight tablespoons of soapy water. Shake vigorously.
• Keep an opened box of bicarbonate of soda in the fridge to absorb bad smells.