Former Fife teacher celebrates 100th birthday

Scoonie House resident Etta Simpson celebrated her 100th birthday recently. Pic by George McLuskie
Scoonie House resident Etta Simpson celebrated her 100th birthday recently. Pic by George McLuskie

A Leven centenarian celebrated her landmark birthday on Friday.

Harriett Simpson, known affectionately as Etta, celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by friends and family.

A dedicated teacher throughout her working life, Etta was awarded a Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for her services to education.

Nephews and nieces had travelled from across the UK and further afield, including one coming all the way from Florida, to help Etta mark the occasion.

Councillors Tom Adams and Charles Haffey also attended, presenting Etta with a gift voucher on behalf of Fife Council.

However, it was the arrival of the letter from the Queen, congratulating her on celebrating her 100th birthday, which got Etta most excited.

Nephew Michael Rolland, a son of Etta’s sister, Jean, said he had come from Florida to pay tribute to his auntie.

He said. “She is a wonderful lady. She was like a grandmother to my children and we all have the greatest respect for her.”

He explained that two things were most important for Etta, who had never married or had children.

Michael said: “Her children were her schoolchildren. She devoted her life to young kids and there are a lot of folks in Leven that we run across who remember her as their first teacher.

“She is very bright and up-to-date with what’s going on. Her real love was her garden, which was very impressive. She worked on it night and day.

“She’s lived in Leven almost all her life and is committed to the town. There’s been a lot of good in her life.”

Etta’s parents, Michael and Harriett, moved from Alloa to Leven when she was just six. She has remained a resident of the town ever since.

Etta entered teacher training college, where she continued studying during the World War Two, before starting as a trainee teacher in south west Scotland.

She returned to Leven and worked at several schools in the area, giving many local children a head start in life, with her last post being at Mountfleurie Primary School.

In 1977, she was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal and retired the same year.

For many years Etta was a committed member of Scoonie Kirk and enjoyed playing golf and badminton.

Until she reached the age of 95, she remained in her own home on Largo Road, which had been her mother’s. Since then she has been a resident of Scoonie House.

The family who attended the gathering on Friday recalled their favourite memories with the centenarian.

For Michael, it was her fondness for children that stood out.

He said: “One of my favourite memories with her was when we would play badminton outside with my children in her back garden. She just loves young children.”

Another nephew, Edward Simpson, remembered trips from England to see his aunt on family holidays. He said: “She’d teach us to cook chocolates and Scottish recipes.”