Real Lives: Globetrotter Janet lived a brief American dream

Janet Rance on her 100th birthday
Janet Rance on her 100th birthday
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Janet Rance, a great-grandmother whose life has spanned the globe, has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Mrs Rance, nee Archer, was born in Penicuik in 1912 and lived there for the first nine years of her life.

Janet Rance with her parents

Janet Rance with her parents

She was delivered by her own grandmother, who served as a midwife to her husband’s regiment, the Royal Scots Brigade.

Her life has been affected by the tumultuous 20th century. After emigrating to the United States in 1921, Janet and her family were forced to return to Britain just eight years later when the Great Depression hit and left her father, a painter and decorator, unable to find work without US citizenship.

She was just 17 at the time, and looking back on it Mrs Rance admitted she had been devastated to leave her adopted home.

“I was broken-hearted,” she said. “I was American to the soles of my feet.

“I took the Oath of Allegiance as keenly, perhaps more so, as any other American child.”

The family returned to Edinburgh, where Mrs Rance stayed until she married husband Stan and moved to Surrey.

The couple met on a walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales in 1938, but the outbreak of war kept them apart for six years.

They finally wed in Edinburgh in 1945 and were married for 60 years until Mr Rance died in 2006.

They had two daughters – Judith, who lives in Ripon, and Elizabeth. Mrs Rance is now grandmother to three girls and great-grandmother to Hannah, four, Marcus, two, 18-month-old Jacob and Hazel, three months, and is expecting another great-grandchild soon.

Mrs Rance marked her centenary surrounded by friends and family with a party at her home at Clova House Care Home, and was joined by Mayor of Ripon Mick Stanley and the deputy mayor, Pauline McHardy.

She believes that the influence of America across the 20th century has changed things for the better, especially in education.

The Second World War played a big part in her life – not least that she had to wait for six years to get married – and she believes that defeating Hitler changed the world.

“It’s a good job we won the war,” she said.

Mrs Rance said she has also seen great improvements in healthcare, and in education and opportunities for girls.

“They should take every advantage,” she added.

Looking back, Mrs Rance said she is thankful that in her life “everyone has been kind”, and said living a quiet life is the secret to longevity.

She said: “Have a dull life. Live quietly, keep your head down and don’t fret.”