Friends crank up party for Jess’s 101st birthday

A FORMER dressmaker who ran her own business in the Capital has celebrated her 101st birthday with
a party at her care home.

Jess Fleming had been head seamstress across several city stores before setting up her own firm, Jessie Fleming Fashion Dressmaker, in Bruntsfield during the 1940s.

She marked her latest birthday at Trust Housing Association’s Crusader Court development in Livingston with a bash accompanied by fellow residents, some of whom cranked up the entertainment with a session on the accordion.

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The mother-of-four, who was born and raised in Aberfeldy, learned her trade at Haddarts tailors before setting up life in Edinburgh.

Speaking about her birthday celebrations, Mrs Fleming said: “It was really nice to get a letter from the Queen for my 100th birthday last year. I’ve had a busy few days celebrating my 101st birthday this week with all my friends.

“I went out for lunch on Tuesday to Beecraigs in Bathgate and then I enjoyed spending some time at Braid House Day Centre. Trust held a party for me in Crusader Court on Friday and one of the other tenants entertained us playing the accordion.”

She added: “It’s been lovely to have the chance to celebrate my birthday with family and so many friends. Having lived here for eight years, I have got to know lots of people in the development and staff have also become good friends and made it a wonderful place to live.”

Mrs Fleming specialised in making clothes and wedding dresses at her Gilmore Place outlet. She said dressmaking was “her life” and believes she inherited the skill from her French grandmother.

“I married and had children in Edinburgh and stayed there until I retired,” she said. “The secret to my longevity is that I really enjoy life.

“Things have gone well for me and I’ve been very happy. I used to play a bit of golf when I was younger, I wasn’t a good golfer but I liked going round the course. I enjoyed the open air, my dad used to do a lot of fishing in Aberfeldy and I chummed him.

“I was once told I had diabetes and then later the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary did some tests and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t diabetic after all. Living to this age proves I was well all the time.”

Bob McDougall, chief executive of Trust Housing Associationsaid: “I would like to wish Jess many happy returns on behalf of everyone at Trust.”

Mrs Fleming has three sons – James, a retired civil servant who lives in Queensferry, Dennis, a retired police inspector in Bothwell, and Alan, a former firefighter in Edinburgh who now lives in Birmingham. She also has a daughter Norma, who lives in Whitburn, West Lothian.