Celebrating 100 years of Lena

Lena with Councillor Alistair Hunter
Lena with Councillor Alistair Hunter

Carlow Court in Leven held a celebration to remember last week as its longest established resident marked her 100th birthday.

Lena Preston celebrated the centenial milestone on Friday at her home in the Bield complex in Leven, surrounded by friends, family and staff.

Daughter Laura Macdonald (74) said of the party: “It was just wonderful. She got 74 cards, including one from the Queen and the Fife Provost. She was so overwhelmed and kept saying ‘I’m so lucky, I didn’t know so many people cared’.”

Born to Florence and Samuel on December 19, 1914, Lena grew up in Motherwell, attending Motherwell High School before starting work as a servant.

From there she moved to London where she began waitressing and learned silver service. This allowed her move home to Scotland where she worked in Cranstons Tearoom on Argyle Street.

She married her first husband Samuel Hotchkiss, in 1939. However they split a couple of years after Laura’s birth in August 1940.

To spend more time with Laura away from waitressing, Lena took jobs as a housekeeper all over the country, before meeting an old beau, Alexander Hancock, whom she married and moved to Fife with in 1950.

In 1984, following Alexander’s death, Lena met up with an old friend, Matthew Preston, and the pair married - Lena was 70. After a short spell in Wishaw, the pair moved to Carlow Court where Lena has lived ever since, and is now their longest established resident.

A fan of puzzles, which she said helped to keep her mind sharp, she’s unable to do them now due to failing eyesight, and Laura says her favourite pastime now is to sit in her chair and go back to when she was young.

“She has some amazing stories,” said Laura. “Its amazing the things she can remember, and she’ll sing songs and little ditties and recite poems which her own grandmother used to tell her.”

The whole family joined Lena to celebrate her birthday, including Laura’s son Alan and his partner Kay, her daughter Trudie and her children Paul and Jade - of X Factor fame - and Paul’s partner Jaki and their daughter Kerys, who is eight and Lena’s great, great grand-daughter.

Laura added: “She tells me she doesn’t understand how she’s lived this long, but we think she’ll outlive us all. She is an outstanding woman and I’m proud that she’s my mother.”