The life of Betty Brocklehurst has been fraught with great tragedy, but as her 80th birthday approaches this weekend, it is her “award-winning smile” and strength that are being celebrated.
Born on May 20, 1932, Betty lived in Heriothill Terrace and attended Canonmills Primary School, before moving on to Bellevue High.
At the age of 18, she married William Kennedy “Kenny” Brocklehurst in Stockbridge on Christmas Day, but she was tragically widowed by the age of 29.
Kenny was only 35 when he was involved in a car accident with five others on September 9, 1961, just moments from their family home in Oxgangs, where Betty still lives today.
Betty’s daughter, Karen Brocklehurst, never knew her father because the accident took place a month before she was born, but she says her mother still has the edition of the Evening News which documents the fatal crash.
For Betty, though, the importance of being a mum to five young children – Kenny, Keith, Karen, Janice and Gail – was the strength that carried her on.
Her first job was in a chemist in Bread Street, before she moved on to Waterstons the printers, then Pentland nightclub and as one of the first barmaids in Hunters Tryst bar.
Betty’s longest job was at the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital, from which she retired at the age of 60.
As well as being a mother to five, Betty has also found herself grandmother to 11 and great-grandmother to eight.
Karen says her mother never complained about raising five children and also helped with the upbringing of all her grandchildren without any qualms.
After being widowed, Betty devoted herself to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and never re-married, but now has what Karen describes as a “wonderful partner”.
Betty and the rest of her family are staunch Hibs fans and she is delighted to see the Hibees play Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final. She also hopes that, on her birthday, her team will be the ones holding the cup.
Karen explains: “We are taking her to the Pavilion bar in Buckstone to watch the game and celebrate her 80th. It was in this pub on its first year of opening that she was presented with a bouquet of flowers for being the smiliest person in the bar.”
Although Betty has experienced a troubled past, her daughter is keen to point out her mother’s good nature in spite of this.
She said: “She is truly a magnificent women, more than words can explain. We just want her to know that we are equally proud of her and the life she has given us all.”