Free-spirit Margaret turns 106

SHE was so determined not to go into a care home that when social services checked her into one at the age of 99, she ran off.

Fiesty Margaret Brown finally settled down in Corstorphine Hospital a few months ago, and has now celebrated her 106th birthday in her new surroundings.

Mrs Brown, who is one of the country's oldest people, enjoyed a party with her friends, family and care workers on Saturday to mark another year in a very adventurous life.

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Grandaughter Michelle Rodger, 41, from Clermiston, said her gran had finally accepted that she needed to live in the home, but that she remained a cheeky, independent character.

She said: "Even now she acts a bit young. She's got a wee toy boy called Ben, who's about 20. He's one of her carers, but she has a soft spot for him, and he has a soft spot for her.

"She had a glass of champagne and a party with all of the other ladies at the hospital. I'm told there was a Sydney Devine lookalike entertaining, which makes me recoil in horror, but I heard that she loved it. I suppose you only turn 106 once."

She added: "When we asked her what the secret was to her long life, she said hard work and family, and she does love a brandy every night to send her off to sleep.

"Unbelieveably, she smoked until she was 101, then quit. She said she'd heard it was not good for her and would lead to a shorter life."

Mrs Brown, who lived in Carrick Knowe, managed to cope living by herself until she was in her early 90s, when she had a few falls. When she turned 99 social services decided that she needed to go into a home, so they booked her into one in Clermiston, but Ms Rodger said her gran wasn't happy with the decision, so she did a bunk.

She said: "She's a feisty character and she was having none of it. She lasted five days before phoning a taxi, checking herself out and heading home. Of course, she was sneaky about it. She made sure she waited until after 5pm on the Friday so that social services wouldn't be contactable.

"After she did that they realised there was no point in trying to control her."

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Mrs Brown was born on 29 May, 1904, in Swansea, but the family soon moved to Slateford, in Edinburgh. She married her first husband, William Gillan, aged 18 and the couple had three children, Cameron – who sadly died when he was a toddler – Bill and Owen.

After getting divorced, she got married a second time, to George Brown, and they had a daughter called Helen.

Her husband passed away in 1971, followed by her son Owen, in 1996, and Bill, last month. Helen is now 66.