A FOUNDING member of the Eastgate Theatre has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Margaret Jamieson marked becoming a centenarian with a glass of bubbly and a slice of cake at Peebles Care Home on Sunday.

As well as receiving well wishes from local friends and family, she also received her telegram from the Queen, alongside birthday messages from former colleagues and distanced friends.

“I can’t believe I reached 100,” said Ms Jamieson, “how did it happen?”

Ms Jamieson was born in Edinburgh on July 26, 1920, and was the eldest of five children.

She has been heralded as a “very independent lady”, having travelled around the world, visiting Japan, Indonesia, Yemen, Canada, and numerous other far-off locations.

This newspaper asked Ms Jamieson to look back on her 100 years, and to pinpoint some of her fondest memories, as well as others which stick out in the mind.
She said: “[There are] So many.

“Being in North Berwick when my mother gave birth to her first set of twins: my mother and father went on holiday with one child and came back with three!
“My time as a pupil at James Gillespie’s, walking home with Muriel Spark and being head girl.

“Going to Germany immediately after the Second World War where I saw terrible poverty and just how terrible the war had been for the German people.

“My time as principal at IM Marsh College in Liverpool.

“My travels to all parts of the world. I particularly remember being in Iran where I had to wear a full robe – so many women wanted to come up and speak to me in English. Iran is a much misunderstood country.

“Building my house in Peebles – or rather overseeing it. I loved the views over Peebles, the hills, the town. 

“I couldn’t have picked a better place to retire to.

“My only regret is not being physically able to get out and about as much as I used to.”

Her career, beginning as a PE teacher in Liverpool, spanned decades and even took her to post-war Germany to teach army children in 1947.

Then, in 1965, she was elected as college principal at the IM Marsh College Liverpool – a position which she remained in until 1981.

She was also one of the founding members of the Eastgate Theatre, as the arts hold a special place in her heart.

“It was very important to create the Eastgate Theatre,” Ms Jamieson said.

“We are so near Edinburgh but not everyone can go there to the theatres and concert halls. 

“Here, being near Edinburgh and in a wonderful place, we can attract acts who also go to Edinburgh. I still go to concerts with a carer and often the acts come here to the care home.”

Any birthday under lockdown regulations would be odd, but to mark 100 years in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is odder still.

At her celebration on Sunday, due to restrictions, family members who could visit did so from Tweed Green and looked on as she read her royal telegram.

“It was odd,” she added. “I wanted to see my family but they couldn’t come in to see me.

“They had to stand out in the street but it was still wonderful they could be there.”
When asked what final piece of advice she would give to readers on how to lead a happy and long life, Ms Jamieson said: “Keep fit and healthy and don’t put off doing tomorrow what you could do today.”