Printer in good company to celebrate 102nd year

A former printer who gold leafed and bound the book of remembrance for a war memorial has reached another milestone anniversary by celebrating her 102nd birthday.

Barbara Ballantine, who lives in Linlithgow, marked the occasion with West Lothian Provost Tom Kerr and other residents at the HC-One care home.

The gift of longevity appears to be commonplace in Barbara’s family history, with her late mother living to 101, while her younger sister is just a few years shy of the century at the grand old age of 98.

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Ms Ballantine was born in Stockport on July 5, 1910, into a family of five sisters.

She trained as a printer, carving out a career in the industry before marrying first husband Tom Barrett. The couple had a son David.

After her husband’s death Barbara married Tom Ballantine and relocated to Linlithgow Bridge, West Lothian, in 1986.

The couple lived in Mill Road until Tom passed away in 2004 and Barbara eventually moved into the HC-One care home on St Ninian’s Road three years ago.

David, 70, who lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex, said: “My mother’s mother lived until she was 101 so she has just exceeded her.

“Barbara’s claim to fame was that she was responsible for the gold leaf and binding of the Roll of Remembrance in the war memorial in Stockport. There were three copies made. Two are in Stockport, and she was given the other. She is proud of that.”

After moving to Linlithgow, Barbara was very involved in the local community as a member of the Golden Oldies, Linlithgow Link, the 100 Club and the Lunch Club, which used to run in the town.

Nowadays, she enjoys singing, watching Songs of Praise and taking part in the entertainment provided by the care home.

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David added: “There is one lady there who is 103 so she is jealous of her and out to beat her. When she’s asked the secret to such a long life, she just says, ‘breathing’”.

David visits his mother every three weeks, bringing her news of the rest of her family based in England, including her three grandchildren – Susan, Gareth and Michael – and three great-grandchildren: Amelia, five, Rose, four, and Franscesca, one.

Staff at HC-One held a party for Barbara to celebrate her landmark birthday, attended by Mr Kerr.

The Provost said: “It was a great pleasure to meet Barbara and hear about her career.

“Barbara was in good spirits and thoroughly enjoying the attention of her big day, including all the cards, balloons and of course cake.

“Barbara is really good fun and while I was with her there were lots people popping in to wish her well.”