Docs said centurion Mary wouldn't see first birthday

MARY McLean has celebrated her 100th birthday – despite doctors saying she would not live to be six months old.

Born Mary Strachan Simpson in Forres, Morayshire, on 3 April, 1910, she was such a sickly child that doctors did not expect her to live to see her first birthday – let alone celebrate her century.

Surrounded by her friends and family, and with a birthday message from the Queen, she did just that on Saturday, at a party arranged by staff at the Western General Hospital, where she was temporarily a patient.

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Guests flew in from all over the world, including her Edinburgh-born granddaughter Helen MacDonald, who arrived from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Mary has lived in Edinburgh since 1944. Her current home is Belgrave Lodge Nursing Home in Corstorphine.

She is the only surviving child of Robert and Jane Simpson, who married in Forres on 7 October, 1904.

Her older sister Cath and younger brother Robert both passed away, while another sister, Jane Morgan Simpson, disappeared and was never seen again, on the 2 October 1912, shortly after starting work at the Earl of Pitgavenie's Estate in Elgin.

Mary has survived two world wars, and her father served in the army during the First World War.

Tragically, he was fighting abroad when Mary's mother died in 1917.

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Mary worked in the catering trade, waiting tables at hotels in Nairn, Grantown-on-Spey and Beauly. While living in Forres, she married a neighbour, Alex Brown.

Before he died, they had one child, Harriet, who sadly passed away in Edinburgh in 1971.

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She met her second husband, Andrew McLean, who was a war worker at the nearby RAF base in Kinloss.

Mary came to live in Edinburgh in 1944 after marrying Andrew.

From 1944 to 1951, Mary was employed as caretaker of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce offices, then in Charlotte Square.

One of her memories of that office was an evening when the family's pet cat nearly sabotaged a formal tea by jumping on to a table where cakes had been laid out – almost a disaster at a time when post-war rationing still applied. She remembers only just rescuing the cakes in the nick of time.

In her spare time, she was an active member of the Co-operative Women's Guild at Carrick Knowe in Edinburgh during the 1950s.

Her and Andrew's only child, Allan, was born in Edinburgh in 1946, and fondly remembers the Halloween and Christmas parties his mother would organise with the group, as well as her trademark clootie dumplings in the winter.