Obituary: Emanuel ‘Mannie’ Lyons 77

Mannie Lyons, keeping Edinburgh in the picture
Mannie Lyons, keeping Edinburgh in the picture
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A GOOD Samaritan known as one of Newington’s most colourful characters has died at the age of 77.

Former civil servant Emanuel “Mannie” Lyons was often spotted on his daily walks around Newington come “rain, hail or shine”.

He was born on March 26, 1935, the first son of Samson and Betsy Lyons, and was named after his maternal grandfather, Emanuel Joels, who lived in Glasgow.

His father ran a hairdressing business in Newington, with the shop also selling small items of jewellery.

One of Mannie’s earliest memories at the age of three was travelling by train from Waverley to Glasgow to visit his mother’s relatives.

It transpired the trip’s real purpose was to get his tonsils removed by his doctor uncle. Mannie had no recollection of the actual procedure, but always remembered the toy he was given to play with afterwards.

He was later educated at George Heriot’s School, where he excelled at science, maths and history. Violin lessons also started at the time with his uncle Marcus Lyons, a professional musician from Marchmont.

Mannie left school at the age of 17 and completed a period of national service. He would later start work for the civil service, both in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Elizabeth Gallacher, a volunteer who befriended Mannie at Corstorphine Hospital, where he died in December, said: “One of Mannie’s outstanding virtues was his keen sense of humanity and kindness, which he demonstrated in many ways.

“He would approach visitors to the Capital, particularly foreigners, with whom he would study their local maps and then give them specific instructions to help them reach their particular destination, and also in some cases help with English language translation.

“Each day he would make a point of speaking to and carrying out simple acts of kindness for less able patients. On one occasion I found him trying to teach a patient who was registered blind how to ‘feel’ the numbers on a domino. Whilst this would be difficult to do, his whole intention was to enable this patient to take part in the game instead of sitting out.”

Reading, model railways and visiting places of historical interest were among Mannie’s many hobbies – and the city’s trams was one of his favourite subjects.

He remained a bachelor throughout his life, living in the family home on Kirkhill Road.

After his father died, Mannie cared for his mother until her own death in her 80s.

Mannie himself became ill and spent the final 18 months of his life as an inpatient at Corstorphine Hospital.

He enjoyed naming different breeds of birds seen around the hospital grounds and liked to watch the monkeys at nearby Edinburgh Zoo.

Mannie was laid to rest alongside his parents and paternal grandparents in the Jewish cemetery at Piershill.