Meet the 90-year-old who has attended every Edinburgh Festival

90-year-old Dr Pamela Epps has been attending the Festival every year since it started in 1947. Picture:'' Neil Hanna
90-year-old Dr Pamela Epps has been attending the Festival every year since it started in 1947. Picture:'' Neil Hanna
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WHEN Pamela Epps went to an opera performance 70 years ago she hardly imagined it would start a habit of a lifetime.

But after experiencing the first Edinburgh Festival in 1947, she has been back every year since,

Now aged 90, the culture-loving former doctor, who lives in Barnton, is preparing to return to the Festival in its 70th year.

Her remarkable feat of cultural allegiance over the last seven decades began with the Macbeth opera, the very first to be performed at the then newly established Festival.

“It made my head explode,” explained Dr Epps, a former GP in Newington who still remembers the very first sound that hooked her for life.

“I had never been to an opera before and when the actress began to sing it blew me away.

“My mind was blown because of that wonderful woman – she sung so effortlessly, such a pure sound came out as she performed.”

Her first experience sparked a love of not only opera but for championing the arts in her hometown which has endured every year since.

She and her mother continued to buy tickets for “lots of different shows” in the following years.

She said: “My mum and I continued going to shows each year. She went every year until she died.”

Over the years the variety of acts on the bill has increased as well as the diversity of performers.

But the festival-lover has had to cut back on the number of acts she sees each year.

“At some stage you have to slow down, and the expense mounts up as well if you go to lots in one year.”

But she is celebrating the 70th anniversary by re-visiting the production which launched her love affair with opera.

“We are going to see the Macbeth opera in the Festival Theatre.”

Dr Epps said although she knows what she loves – opera, theatre and classical productions – she has tried new genres over the years.

“I have never been shocked by a show but I have to admit I can’t get my head around modern music really – I’ve tried but it’s just not for me.”

Dr Epps’ enthusiasm and dedication to the city’s festival season has rubbed off on her children who have also passed the tradition on to their children.

“We saw so much from a young age,” her daughter Viv explained. “We saw performances by Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, Shakespeare plays and even Greek tragedy The Bacchae with Alan Cummings in it.”

And it is not only her mother’s continuing passion for the city’s month-long culture injection that her family admires but also her vivacity later in life.

She said: “Mum was an old fashioned, inner-city, single-handed GP who started practising the year the NHS came in.

“She was well known in the city and very well respected, retiring 28 years ago.”

At her practice on Rankeillor Street she worked on a strict self-devised system of care for drug addiction lauded by Lothian Police at the time.

“And to this day mum’s mind is sharp. If I have half the brain she does at her age I will be delighted,” Viv added.