French polisher Mary Neilson smoothes the path to her 100th birthday

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Mary Neilson will mark a major milestone tomorrow when she celebrates her 100th birthday.

Mrs Neilson was born Mary Thomson in Edinburgh's Old Town on February 24, 1909, the youngest of five children.

She grew up in a tenement on Holyrood Road and was a pupil at North Canongate School.

On leaving school she worked as a messenger for a tailor on George Street for a year before taking a position as a French polisher, polishing furniture in a furniture shop on the Cowgate for several years.

It was through her job that she met husband-to-be John Neilson, who at the time was working for his father George Neilson – an antique dealer who ran Neilson's Antiques on Holyrood Road.

She married Mr Neilson around two years later in 1936, at the registry office on George IV Bridge.

They went on to have three children, George, 68, Graham, 59, and John, who sadly passed away a week after he was born.

Mrs Neilson has two grandchildren, Naomi, 38, and John, 36, and three great-grandchildren – Alister, ten, Christopher, eight, and Rachel, four.

After she married, Mrs Neilson became a stay-at-home mum until Mr Neilson passed away in 1961, aged 58, after suffering from stomach ulcers.

Mrs Neilson then took a job at a launderette on Piersfield Terrace in Piershill, where she worked for around 12 years, before retiring at the age of 65.

She has spent her whole life in Edinburgh and up until two weeks ago was living independently in a council flat on Northfield Drive.

Mrs Neilson is now a resident at Jewel House Residential Care Home on Bingham Crescent and a member of the Canongate Kirk.

She enjoyed a party with family, friends and carers at Kings Manor Hotel on Milton Road on Saturday, and will have another celebration at the care home tomorrow.

Mrs Neilson said the secret of a long and happy life was "hard work".

Her son, George, laughed: "She loves to eat all the wrong food! She can demolish a fish supper or haggis supper.

"She also likes watching quiz shows on television – she loves Anne Robinson's The Weakest Link. She has a wee brandy and ginger occasionally, but that's a special treat.

"Her hearing and her sight is failing but as regards illnesses, I don't think there's a bug alive that would survive in her body.

"She's a very strong-willed woman, but I think you would have to be to reach that age."