Real Lives: Staying busy is Marion’s secret to hitting century

Marion celebrated her landmark birthday with friends and family
Marion celebrated her landmark birthday with friends and family
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A great-grandmother celebrated with friends and family and received cards from the Queen and First Minister Alex Salmond as she reached her 100th birthday.

Marion Degnan came into the world on April 18, 1912 in Oakbank, Straiton, Midlothian.

It was the year the Titanic sank and explorer Robert Falcon Scott led his fateful mission to the South Pole – but Marion’s family note it as the year their beloved mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother was born.

Born Marion Flockhart, she was the third eldest of eight children – Emily, Alex, Chris, Tam, Andrew, Joe and Nessie.

Nessie, now 85, lives with husband Jim Blair in Penicuik.

Marion attended Burdiehouse School, and recalls on her last day being informed by her teacher that a princess, who would later become Queen Elizabeth II, had been born.

She could never have predicted that the royal baby would one day congratulate her on turning 100.

Marion met her husband Thomas, who was from Edinburgh, at a dance hall and they married at a registry office in the Capital in 1939.

They spent their entire married life in Penicuik, until Thomas, who served as a battery sergeant major with the Royal Artillery in the Second World War and worked as a miner at Bilston Glen, died in 1989.

They had two children – John and Robin – who also still live in Penicuik. With their wives, Irene and Ann respectively, they have given Marion five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, with another one due any day.

The centenarian worked as a cook at Southfield Sanitorium – now known as Liberton Hospital – and often regales her family with stories of cooking meals for large numbers of patients.

Before marrying Thomas, she worked at Roslin Glen Carpet Factory.

Marion celebrated her 100th birthday at Thornlee Nursing Home in Loanhead, where she moved last summer. She had previously lived in a granny flat beside Robin and Ann’s home.

In the post to mark the occasion were birthday cards from the Queen and Alex Salmond, congratulating her on her achievement.

A member of St Mungo’s Church in Penicuik, Marion keeps in reasonably good health and enjoys regular visits to the nursing home from friends and families. She takes part in many activities at Thornlee with other residents who have become friends.

Her family said Marion put her longevity down to keeping herself busy, even after she retired.

Daughter-in-law Ann said: “She reckons it is hard work. She has been retired for about 60 years, but she always keeps herself busy and did so even when she was living with us.

“She was always scurrying about. She was always busy.”