It was love at first sight 61 years ago

Margaret and Ronnie married on Hogmanay in 1954. Picture: Greg Macvean
Margaret and Ronnie married on Hogmanay in 1954. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Dalkeith couple Ronnie and Margaret Halley have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.

Margaret Cormack was born in 1933 at home in Milton Street, Abbeyhill, the eldest of four children. Her mother had worked as a bookbinder and her father was in the bar trade.

Brought up mainly in Stockbridge, she went to St Bernard’s School, where she became joint dux, and won a bursary to go to Broughton Secondary School before leaving at 15. “Up until then most people left school at 14,” she recalls. “A lot depended on your circumstances. If you had money you could stay on, but we were quite a poor family so I had to leave. I should have stayed on and done Highers, but it didn’t hold me back too much.”

Margaret got a job in the advertising department at the Evening News and remembers the office under the turret window of the then office in Cockburn Street.

But she discovered she was allergic to newsprint and after three years she moved to work in the city’s public libraries, serving for spells in Abbeyhill, Leith and McDonald Road branches.

She met husband Ronnie Halley at “the dancing” at the New Cavendish in 1953. They say it was love at first sight and they were married on Hogmanay 1954 at Gilmerton Parish Church.

Ronnie had been born in Battlefield Road, Bannockburn, in 1932, one of seven children. But his father, who had worked in naval armaments, was killed in an accident in Egypt during the Second World War. The family moved to Edinburgh and Ronnie went to school at Boroughmuir. He did actuarial training, followed by national service and then went to work in the post office in a senior admin role.

But when he was 30, he decided he wanted to become a teacher and after studying for a degree, he ended up back at Boroughmuir teaching maths and science.

They lived for a few years in Innerleithen, where Margaret ran a corner shop while Ronnie commuted to and from Edinburgh, but they moved back to Dalkeith in the early 1990s and have lived there ever since.

Margaret worked as a nursery nurse at Prestonfield Primary School for eight years until Ronnie took early retirement. Then they both went to work in a secondary school in Malawi under Voluntary Service Overseas from 1990 until 1992.

Later, in 2008, when they were both in their late seventies, they undertook a week-long trek in the Himalayas to raise money for VSO.

The couple have four daughters and 12 grandchildren, but also raised five foster children.

Ronnie, 83, and Margaret, 81, celebrated their 60 years of marriage with a special diamond wedding celebration with a party for more than 60 family members and friends.