Simpson’s festive
baby has turned 60

Alfreda and Les Wilson with Lady Provost Ella Miller. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Alfreda and Les Wilson with Lady Provost Ella Miller. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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AN artist who was the first Christmas baby to be born at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Hospital has celebrated his 60th birthday.

Les Wilson was born on December 25, 1953, to parents Stewart and Alfreda Wilson, who came from Musselburgh.

His creative career has seen him produce portraits of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh and of Sir Sean Connery during one of his return visits to his home city.

Les’s mother had been a midwife at the hospital from 1951 to 1953 and during that time it had been her dream to help deliver the first Christmas baby at the Simpson.

She never got to fulfil that wish during her spell there and after leaving the hospital she got married in March 1953.

As fate would have it, however, Mrs Wilson soon became pregnant and proclaimed to her former colleagues that she would be the one to deliver them their first Christmas baby. Nine months later, on Christmas Day, Les was born.

A complicated birth, she vividly remembers how the medic in charge, Dr John Kerr, a man she formerly worked with, arrived at the ward still dressed in his dinner jacket.

She was subsequently presented with the Coronation Silver Cup by the Lady Provost of Edinburgh as a keepsake of her achievement.

It is a memory she cherishes to this day.

Mr Wilson had a typical childhood, leaving school at the age of 16 to join the army, serving with the Royal Artillery.

His creative talents were what pulled him in the direction of becoming an artist in his own right.

Through his own initiative, he developed a unique form of art which saw him become well known for his intricate leather work.

Using leather as his canvas, Mr Wilson masterfully dyes the material, and produces a wide array of different items from handbags to signs, handicrafts and paintings.

His work has been displayed in the famous Jenners department store and Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.

His portrait work has also been widely acclaimed, not least in royal circles when he produced an image of the Queen and Prince Philip.

He also made a particularly intricate and beautiful portrait of Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns.

A passionate and hard worker, he dedicates most of his time to his art, leaving him little time for anything else. He recently opened a small gallery, which is located in South Clark Street.

Due to his birthday coinciding with arguably the biggest holiday of them all, Mr Wilson – who is divorced and has no children – has never been keen on making too much out of his big day.

His recent 60th birthday – and Christmas Day – were celebrated in low-key fashion at his home in the city, where he cooked a meal for his family.