FOR 50 years, Catherine Mason has been waving to school pupils as they pass her house in Peebles every morning.

Life in lockdown has been particularly hard on elderly residents living in isolation who are lonely.

But 91-year-old Catherine simply misses morning greetings from her wee friends – the children from Priorsford Primary and Peebles High School.

The emotional exchange has warmed the hearts of her neighbours who contacted the Peeblesshire News to tell us how much she is missing all the school children.

Catherine has lived in Peebles since 1970, when she and her late husband George bought a house in The Meadows, which is a popular route for children on their way to school.

Every morning Catherine and George would be up before the school bell offering up a friendly wave to the youngsters as they passed by.

Many of the kids would smile and wave back, and thus it became somewhat of a ritual.

George, who owned Masons Butcher shop in Innerleithen, sadly passed away four years ago.

“He was called the ‘Pie Man’,” said Catherine. “His pies were legendary.”

Even without her husband by her side, Catherine carried on the tradition of waving to the school pupils.

“They just make my day,” she said. “I get up and get dressed and make sure I’m at the window in time for them passing by.

"Seeing their smiley faces just brightens my morning.”

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However, a few years ago pupils passed by and Mrs Mason was nowhere to be seen, her blinds were shut and alarm bells started to ring.

Catherine told us: “They went into school crying telling their teacher the lady who waves to us wasn’t there.

“The school alerted a neighbour who had a key and she came to check and saw that my bed was made.

“During the evening I had a bad fall and pressed my buzzer and was taken to hospital.

The poor souls were very worried. When I got home from hospital four boys brought me some beautiful flowers and the tears were rolling down my cheeks – I was so touched.”

On Catherine’s 90th birthday, her neighbours decorated the outside of her house with balloons and bunting – and she had a choir of pupils singing ‘Happy Birthday’.

We asked Catherine how she has been been feeling since COVID-19 forced early closure of the schools.

Describing herself as “lost” without the pupils, she said: “In the mornings I rush to get down the stairs for them passing, forgetting that the schools are closed. The street is so quiet.

“Some of the high school boys go past on their bikes and still give me a wave, and one mum brought her daughter over to give me a coloured drawing which has pride of place in my house.”

“I don’t have any family of my own, so I miss them. I miss their lovely smiles.”

The Queen referenced Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime classic We’ll Meet Again in her recent address to the nation.

For Catherine the lyrics are very poignant, as she told me: “I don’t know when I’ll see them again.”

I reminded Catherine that the schools will be reopening in August, so now she knows when and where she’ll meet her wee friends again.

Until then, she says she’ll keep smiling through until that sunny day where she’ll be standing at her window ready to wave again.