Lifelong literature lover celebrates 100th birthday

Mary working as a nurse during the war

 A World War Two nurse with a passion for poetry has celebrated turning 100 at a Dunfermline retirement housing development.

Mary Wright McKean, now a tenant at Bield’s Gillie Court, was born in Edinburgh where she worked as a librarian, civil servant and as a nurse during the war.

Her time as a nurse is full of historical memories. Working at Bangour Hospital, in West Lothian, Mary aided in the innovative early work of reconstructive plastic surgery.

Each night Mary, a loyal Hearts FC fan, would travel back to her home in Slateford within the earshot of the cheers of Tynecastle and one evening grabbed a memorable lift with General Charles De Gaulle back into Edinburgh during the Blackout.

When asked her secret to longevity Mary cheekily answered: “If we all knew that we would all live to over 100!


“But I definitely think everyone could do with worrying a little less.”

Notably, Mary spent time during the war working as a nurse in a military hospital in Drymen – where she would serve meals to imprisoned war criminal, Rudolf Hess.

From her time working as a librarian to now, Mary has always enjoyed poetry and literature. This lifelong love was celebrated when during her 50s she joined the Open University and achieved a BA in Classics.

 Mary celebrated her action-packed life so far with two parties at Gillie Court, with friends, family and fellow tenants all in attendance.


Brenda Robertson, Manager at Gillie Court, said: “Everyone at the development loves Mary and we’d like to say a big congratulations!


“We really enjoyed having both parties here ensuring everyone could wish the centenarian a happy birthday.”


Mary typifies Bield’s ‘Free to Be’ ethos, which aims to enable people to make their own choices and live as independently as possible.


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