Real lives: Army duty inspired a life spent helping out others

TRIBUTES have been paid to Anna Aitken, a long-standing church and community activist, who has died aged 89.

Born in Edinburgh, on December 31, 1922, she was one of three siblings who grew up in Dryden Street.

Anna was a pupil at Broughton primary and secondary schools and when she left got her first job at Leith Central Station with the then-LNER Railway company.

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In 1942, she joined The Royal Army Service Corp and was based in Hastings on the south coast of England. During the war, she and her comrades were responsible for organising supplies over to Europe. She moved back to Edinburgh in 1946.

Anna’s son, Neil, 55, said: “Mum was immensely proud in doing her bit for Britain and spoke highly of the comradeship she experienced there.

“You have to assume that this was part of the reason for her later activities in helping others.”

Once back in Edinburgh, she met her soon-to-be husband, Danny Aitken, and they wed on July 23, 1950, at St Bernard’s Davidson Church.

Up until the late 1960s, Anna worked in the offices of the Ferranti engineering works and then worked at the Post Office Telephones, as a clerical officer, for about 25 years.

Both Anna and Danny, who was an elder at the Drylaw Church, were very church orientated and together they spent their time helping to organise coffee mornings, jumble sales, summer fairs, dances and picnics for Drylaw Parish Church, as well as the local Boys Brigade Company, 22nd Edinburgh, of which both their sons, Ian and Neil, were members.

Sadly, Danny died in March 2005, but Anna continued her work in the local community.

She was heavily involved in her local church, and was one of the founding members of the Rainbow club at Drylaw Church in 1985, a club that provides day-care facilities for older people.

Originally the treasurer, she did everything from making lunches – before the council started providing them – to doing the dishes and setting up.

Even after she retired, she continued to play a vital part in the running of the club.

Pat Watson, Drylaw Parish Church minister, said: “She is going to be one of these people whose name is going to come up in Drylaw for a long time.”

Anna was on the church board, and a member of the Young at Heart Club, since it first began, at Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre.

In 2002, she was one of the first people to receive a Good Citizen award from Drylaw Telford community council.

Son Neil said: “Mum and dad’s social life was probably centred around the church. Every night there was something.”

A funeral service was held at Warriston Crematorium on Friday.