Real Lives: Amazing Barbara has left her mark over 103 years

Barbara Walshe
Barbara Walshe
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Barbara Walshe, a former city postmisstress, has celebrated her 103rd birthday with family and friends.

Mrs Walshe was born Barbara McDonald Stoddart on November 22, 1908, at her parents’ Newhaven Road home.

One of 13 children, she is the last living member of the Stoddart family.

She was educated at Bonnington Road Primary School before moving to Trinity Academy, although she was always keen to work and so left school at the age of 15.

She started working at the cash desk of McVitie Guest the Bakers and Confectioners in Princes Street. After a spell working at Steel the Electricians in Blackhall, she moved to work with Leith Provident Co-operative.

It was there she met her husband, John Walshe, and the pair were married in 1942. They honeymooned on Islay, where Mr Walshe was later posted as he served in the NAAFI during the Second World War.

In 1943 the couple bought their first and only house at Leopold Place.

In 1945 Mrs Walshe gave birth to their only son, James, in the same Newhaven Road property where she was born.

In 1947 the couple bought Hutchison Place Post Office, where they both worked until John’s death in 1955.

The retired postmistress, who lied about her age so she could keep working until she was 78, has lived in Tranent since 1994.

Now a resident of Muirpark Gardens sheltered housing complex, Mrs Walshe was joined by more than 30 family and friends in celebrating her birthday with a party in the scheme’s lounge on Saturday.

Among those attending were her son James, 66, his wife Jacqueline, twin grandchildren Sharon and Michael, 43, and great-grandchildren Amy, 15, Jack, 14, Leah, 13, and Katie, ten.

Sharon, who lives in Macmerry and regularly helps Barbara, said: “Gran does not not look 103 and she certainly doesn’t act 103.

“She talks about everything that’s up to date, she remembers everything from when she was young. Her memory is incredible.

“Gran is always laughing. She’s never upset or annoyed about things.”

The residents at the complex bought Mrs Walshe a birthday cake and arranged a display of Scottish country dancing by local dancers.

Though she doesn’t venture outside any more, she still takes part in some of the activities and parties held in the sheltered housing. She’s also kept busy with frequent visits by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is supported by a strong network of carers and family members.

Sheila Greer, sheltered housing manager at Muirpark Gardens, said: “Mrs Walshe is an amazing woman. She has an amazing memory and a keen interest in what’s happening in the development.”