Edinburgh tree planting event marking Queen’s Platinum Jubilee led by World War II veteran from Haddington

A woman who served in the Navy during World War II was the guest of honour at a tree-planting event marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in Edinburgh.

By Anna Bryan
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 1:22 pm

Margaret Runcie, 96, joined residents of Edinburgh’s Whitefoord House as she planted a tree on the grounds during the event on Tuesday.

Mrs Runcie, who was born in Hertfordshire and now lives in Haddington, served as a Petty Officer in the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) in the Second World War.

In June 1844, she was posted to Royal Naval Air Station Crail in Fife at the age of 18. There, she served as a radio mechanic for 785 Squadron.

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Her job included changing batteries from aircraft returning from missions, usually at night. During her service, which continued until the end of 1946, Margaret lived in Crail House, which was a mile from the base.

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While Mrs Runcie was born in England, she spent much of her military leave travelling through Scotland, where she eventually settled after marrying her husband Ken in 1956.

She planted a crab apple tree, which was sponsored by the Association of Wrens and Women of the Naval Services Edinburgh Branch. The Royal Naval Association Edinburgh branch also planted a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative.

Margaret Runcie, 96, joined residents of Edinburgh’s Whitefoord House as she planted a tree on the grounds during the event on Tuesday. Photo: Murray K Kerr

Margaret said: “I’m delighted to be here planting this tree on behalf of The Association of Wrens and Women of the Naval Services to mark the Platinum Jubilee. The Queen and her father, King George, were an immense inspiration to all servicemen and women throughout the war so it’s an honour to be here celebrating the 70th year of her reign.”

Whitefoord House is a supported housing facility run by Scottish Veterans Residences (SVR), a charity that provides accommodation and services for UK military veterans who are experiencing homelessness.

Martin Nadin OBE, Chief Executive of SVR, said: “As an organisation which is fully committed to supporting veterans, we are absolutely thrilled to have Margaret and so many representatives from the Naval Services Association at today’s tree planting. As we mark the Queen’s historic milestone, it’s important we also acknowledge the commitment and sacrifice of our veterans who have kept the UK secure during the past 70 years.”