Celebrations for a special Kirkcaldy woman on her 100th birthday

A great great grandmother from Kirkcaldy has celebrated her 100th birthday.

By Debbie Clarke
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 3:09 pm

Annie Gourlay toasted the special milestone at her home in the town last Thursday with her family, friends and carers.

Annie was born in Musselburgh on November 25, 1921 and she came to Fife with her family as her father secured a job working in a coal mine in Dysart.

Her first job was working in a carpet factory in Dysart.

Annie Gourlay celebrated her 100th birthday with grandson Jon and Jon's sister Joanne.

Throughout her life she did not have many jobs, but a notable exception was when she was told to travel to Birmingham to aid the war effort. She stayed with a family there for around three to four weeks and worked in a factory helping to make bullets.

Annie met her future husband Thomas Gourlay at the local dancing – they both had a strong love of dancing – which ended up becoming a huge part of their lives. She and Thomas married locally on the same day as her sister Effie, who tied the knot with James Reekie.

Sadly, Thomas passed away on February 10, 1999.

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Annie Gourlay celebrated her 100th birthday with a special Robert Burns-themed cake.

Annie has a special bond with her grandson, Jon, who she raised. He currently lives in Italy and travelled over especially to celebrate the milestone with her.

He said: “She is an incredibly special person to me, having raised me herself. My mother (gran’s daughter) became pregnant at a young age and travelled secretly to London where she planned to give me away for adoption.

"But my gran stepped in immediately and took me back up to Scotland at two weeks of age and raised me. She taught me always to refer to her as gran, never mum, but she was absolutely my mother in every way possible and remains the rock in my life – we are both tied by an unbreakable bond with each other. I love her deeply.”

After she married, Annie was mainly involved in raising Jon and being a housewife, but later she did take on a job as a home help for a number of years in the community.

Annie and Thomas Gourlay on their wedding day (centre) with bestman and bridesmaid, Thomas and Nancy Brown.

Jon continued: “One of the things she did well whilst being a housewife was baking. She was taught baking at school and learned from a proper baker at The Carlton bakery. My grandad and I used to love when she baked things like rhubarb tart, apple tart, double biscuits and snowballs.

"She was the best baker around everyone would say! A real talent.”

As part of the celebrations on the day, Annie, who has five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, was given a special Robert Burns themed birthday cake which featured a photo of Scotland’s national bard and a section of words from Tam O’Shanter.

Annie Gourlay pictured when she was younger.

Annie has always had a close affinity with Robert Burns and loved reading his poetry and singing his songs.

Jon revealed what his gran’s secret is to reaching her 100th birthday: “Her secret to living so long was her love of modern sequence dancing - my gran and grandad danced all over Britain and belonged to many dance clubs. She also enjoys reading poems and singing songs from Rabbie Burns.”

He added: “She also sings songs with her carers, including songs from Adele and Ed Sheeran – she knows all the words even from these modern songs!”

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Annie pictured on her special day with grandson Jon.
Annie received a Robert Burns themed cake to mark her 100th birthday.