Special celebrations as California's Marion turns 101

A village once again pulled out all the stops to celebrate the birthday of its oldest resident.

By Jill Buchanan
Monday, 19th July 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 12:39 pm

Marion Lowrie, better known as Minnie celebrated turning 101 on Saturday at home in Merville Crescent.

And as the sun shone brightly, family, friends and villagers turned out to mark the occasion as best they could due to current covid restrictions.

However, a piper was on hand to ensure that there was music to set everyone's feet tapping.

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Marion Lowrie, the village's oldest resident, cut the cake to mark the official opening of California Community Hub last month, watched by Provost William Buchanan and Tom Greig, chairman of California Community Hub.b.

Her second birthday in lockdown, Marion has put her long life down to a regular “wee talk” with God and daily cups of hot water.

Born and raised in Blackbraes Square, Blackbraes, Marion was one of eight children brought up by parents Margaret and James White.

She attended Blackbraes School and thoroughly enjoyed both growing up in the village and the time she spent in the classroom.

The birthday girl recalled: “It really was a great village and we had a very good school and were very well educated.

“I can remember it well. I remember my first day at the school and before that. The only thing that’s left is the headmaster’s house and there’s a house where the school was.”

When her school days came to an end, Marion began working at the mill in Kerse Lane, Falkirk where her first wage equated to £30 in modern-day money.

She then moved to the Paton and Baldwin’s thread and cotton factory in Bo’ness before quitting to help look after her mother.

A year prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, a then 18-year-old Marion gained employment at Woolworths.

Wartime posts at the ICI in Grangemouth and the Chemical Industries Association followed, where Marion was responsible for waste inspection.

She went on to take a job operating machines with British Aluminium and although the role proved challenging, Marion admitted she learned to like it.

While still a British Aluminium employee, Marion married husband William at the age of 28 in Reddingmuirhead.

The couple had one child together, daughter Vanetta, and one grandson, Matthew.

Marion, whose husband died 17 years ago, is also a great-grandmother to two-year-old Islay.

Caring for others has always been important to the California resident.

At the age of 57, she began working as a home helper – a job Marion held for eight years – and also looked after her own mother until she was 92.

The creation of a community centre in California also presented her with a chance to take care of its hall and get to know those who lived in the village, all of whom “were very nice to me”.

Away from work, Marion loved to read and go to country and western-themed events with her husband.

Her advice to others is: “Just carry on day after day. I believe if you are really worried and don’t know where to turn, a wee talk to God helps.

“When you come to my age, you’ve had your worries and you come through them. Just deal with them as soon as you can and do the best you can. Don’t let them fester inside.”

When the California Community Hub recently reopened, Marion was guest of honour and invited to cut the cake – a job she is getting used to with all her special birthdays.

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