May, 86, writes life story for her great-grandchildren

A GREAT-grandmother who lived and worked for more than 60 years in East Lothian has put pen to paper to tell the fascinating story of her life.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 5:00 am
May Fairbairn waves goodbye to a customer during her days running the Drem Post Office. Picture: Neil Hanna

May Fairbairn, who was born in windswept Orkney but went to school in Morham, one of Scotland’s smallest parishes, decided to write the story of her life to ensure her great grandchildren knew all about her past.

The 86-year-old spent three months putting together Neeps, Horses and Parcels, which is available to buy now at Kesley’s bookshop in Haddington.

Speaking of her decision to start the project, Mrs Fairbairn revealed she had considered it for at least a decade.

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She said: “What inspired me was I had thought about doing it for about ten years. I now have four great-grandchildren and I am 86.

“It was to have something left for my great-grandchildren.

“My great grandmother – I would have loved to have known what she did. It has really taken off beyond what I ever thought it would.”

Mrs Fairbairn’s family are originally from Orkney; however, they moved to the mainland when she was four with her father, John Robson finding work in Midlothian and then moving to East Lothian for employment.

Despite her long time away from Orkney, Mrs Fairbairn, of Drem, who ran the Post Office in the village for more than 30 years, felt the islands and East Lothian were very much home to her.

Away from the Post Office, she also taught at The Compass School in Haddington, and volunteered at the town’s Roodlands Hospital, as well as at Appin Equestrian Centre, near Drem, which is run by her equestrian-enthusiast daughter Anne.

She said: “I have a lot of self-belief in myself and a lot of determination, which I inherited from my father. I was just looking for the next opportunity.”

Already, the autobiography has proven popular with Mrs Fairbairn’s family members, including daughters Anne and Fiona.

Throughout writing the book, Mrs Fairbairn kept it a secret from her family but was pleased to say it had met with a positive reception from all who have read it.

Mrs Fairbairn added that her family were “very proud” and said: “They have been very, very supportive and my grandson and everyone, they have all been behind me.

“They thought it was a marvellous surprise to them all.”

However, it was after retiring from running the Post Office – providing a vital lifeline service to locals and visitors alike –that she decided to return “home” and to visit Orkney and made the long journey to the island.

She said: “When I go up there, I feel Orkney is home. There is just something that tells me that if I had not been widowed, I would certainly be up running a bed and breakfast.”

CAMERON RITCHIE