Bonnyrigg man's busy century after early brush with death

The family of a Bonnyrigg man who turned 100 last November have been reflecting on his century of life and how he nearly passed away at just three months old!

George Philip was born on November 10, 1921 in Bonnyrigg. His daughter Elaine Graham has revealed how death impacted his family in his first year of life.

She said: “His elder brother Jackie died of TB and the coffin was left open as it was feared dad, at three months, was near to death too. His maternal grandmother saved his life with a poultice and he has the scars on his back to this day! His little sister Agnes, who had Down’s Syndrome died around two years of age, when dad was five.”

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George left school at 14 and worked on the roads, in the village carpet factory Widnell and Stewart, and for a builders in Bonnyrigg called Youngs. He then worked at the Lady Victoria pit at the coal face, pulling up the bogies of coal.

Bonnyrigg man George Philip turned 100 last November.

He joined the army in 1943 and was stationed at Buckeburg in Hanover, Germany.

On his return he worked at Bartons of Forrest Road in Edinburgh. When the firm folded, he got into Ferrantis and was a precision glass grinder until he retired aged 65.

In 1953 he married Audrey Dickson, who he met at his church, St Leonard’s, Lasswade. George junior was born in 1955 and Elaine in 1958.

"Grandchildren and great grandchildren followed and dad loved being in the company of his family,” added Elaine.

“Dad was always busy, helping people out, visiting his elderly mother and cutting the church grass at St Ninian’s, Comely Bank until he was elderly.”

In retirement, Hearts fan George enjoyed bicycle trips with his brother Harry, often transporting their bikes to Bonnyrigg and cycling to Cockpen, Carrington and Roseberry Reservoir.

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George and his wife Audrey both enjoyed bowling, gardening, swimming, day trips and picnics and growing grapes to make wine. They loved caravaning with a club, as well as holidays abroad to Portugal, Tenerife and Nice. When too old for travel abroad they enjoyed bus trips to Peebles and Pitlochry.

Audrey sadly died just short of their 65th wedding anniversary. Elaine said: “After mum died, dad stayed at home with carers and attended the Lifecare St Bernard’s club, twice weekly which he thoroughly enjoyed.”

She added: “Being a very sociable man, dad missed his club and regular visits from friends during Covid, like many other elderly lonely people.

"My brother and I visited daily during this time but people his own age were what he missed most.

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"Just after dad’s 99th birthday he was given a pacemaker! We had previously been called into the hospital to say our goodbyes but the next day he made a miraculous recovery.

"After much soul searching we decided dad would benefit greatly from more care and company. He settled in so well at Eagle Lodge and is thriving in their company. We are happy because he is happy, well cared for and loved by all.

"The carers note his great sense of humour and twinkle in his eye. He is young at heart and never refuses an outing. He is also known for his good manners and being a true gentleman.

“Dad’s 100th birthday celebration was a very proud day for all the family. Happily, his brother Harry was present too.”