Better news in month Titanic sank

Isa McCardle, left, celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday. She is pictured with Jean Jamieson, who is 100 at the end of the month.
Isa McCardle, left, celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday. She is pictured with Jean Jamieson, who is 100 at the end of the month.

ONE hundred years ago this month, the world was shocked with news that the “unsinkable” ocean liner, RMS Titanic, had been lost with the death of 1,514 people.

National pride was boosted, however, with the courage shown by Antarctic explorer Captain Scott and his team who reached the South Pole before perishing on the return journey. And an ancient tradition came to an end when the last emperor of China officially abdicated.

No less momentous to the families involved, however, were the births of two girls in Scotland. Isa Hawkins was born in Cavers Carre, in Roxburghshire, the daughter of a local gardener, while Jean Jamieson was born in Dumfries into a family of church ministers.

A century later, Isa McArdle, as she is now, is already celebrating reaching her 100th birthday, while Jean will mark the extra special anniversary later in the month.

Both are residents of the St John’s Home in Melrose, which was the setting for a family gathering and celebration on Monday when Isa was the guest of honour.

Isa’s father eventually took a job as a gardener at the Hydro Hotel in Melrose and the family moved to the town. After school, Isa worked in the local telephone exchange until she retired – apart from a brief stint in the exchange at Galashiels.

A resident of St John’s for the past two years, Isa told TheSouthern she was surprised to be the centre of so much attention: “It was a very big surprise to see so many people. I was only expecting something small, so this is wonderful. I’m very happy,” she added, proudly displaying the card from the Queen conveying her traditional congratulations to those becoming centenarians.

Asked what she thought was the secret of a long life, Isa is convinced it was her healthy, outdoors upbringing. “We were never inside when we were children. We were always playing outside, getting plenty of fresh air.”

Jean will celebrate her 100th birthday on April 26. Although a native of Dumfries, she came to live in Lilliesleaf, where her brother, a former forces chaplain with the Royal Air Force, was a minister.

Jean’s nephew, David, is the fifth generation of the Jamieson family to be ordained as a minister.

After Jean’s brother retired from the ministry, she accompanied him to Melrose, where they lived almost opposite the building she has called home for the last few years.

“After my brother died, I didn’t really have to move very far – just over the road really,” Jean told us.

The former classics teacher at Ayr Academy is still a regular attender at church and loves being out in the St John’s garden.