Mary’s 105th birthday celebrated with family

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When Tayvallich woman Mary McLullich was born, the Queen’s grandfather, George V, was just four years into his 26-year reign.

Charlie Chaplin had only just embarked on his acting career with Keystone Studios in California and Archduke Ferdinand was still hale and hearty, unaware his assassination two months later would precipitate the start of World War One.

On Tuesday May 7, Mary celebrated her 105th birthday surrounded by family and friends.

Born near Strathaven, she moved as a toddler to Kilsyth, where her father worked as a shepherd with the MacGregor family at Allanfauld.

At the age of 18 she first travelled to Argyll to take a summer job as a cook at Carsaig House, Tayvallich. It was at that time she met Duncan McLullich who farmed with his family at Scotnish.

Later in the 1930s, she travelled to Bournemouth to cook in hospitals, and when the Second World War broke out, Mary worked as a hospital cook around Stirling and Coatbridge – but all the time she and Duncan kept in touch.

She and Duncan were reunited after the war and were married on December 11, 1946. They went on to have twins, Anne and Christine, in 1950 before Alan was born in 1956.

They moved to the house in which Mary still lives, while Duncan continued to work the family farm with his parents and sister. He retired in 1974 but remained active in the community. Duncan passed away in 2012 – just three days short of his 99th birthday.

Mary celebrated her latest milestone birthday at her home, where she still lives with the help and support of carers and good neighbours. Her mind is still sharp, though failing eyesight means Scrabble and crosswords are more difficult these days.

Looking back over her long life, Mary can remember the day the First World War came to an end in 1918. ‘It was my brother’s birthday and we were waiting for him to come home from school. It was him who said the war was over. At first we didn’t believe him, but it was true.’

Mary is now the proud grandmother to Jane, Sarah, Beth and Duncan and great-grandmother to Thomas, Mary and Lucy.

Asked the favourite question of all interviewers – the secret to a long and healthy life – Mary replied: ‘Moderation in all things.’

She quickly added: ‘Apart from sweeties.’