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‘She’s still just as feisty’: ‘Oldest’ person in the north-east turns 107 today

Elsie Skene and her toy dog Charlie.

The ‘oldest’ person in the north-east and the second oldest in Scotland turns 107 today.

Elsie Skene was born at home in St Mary’s Well in Aboyne on September 28, 1914, just two weeks after Britain entered World War I.

Her birthday today makes her the oldest person across the entire north-east of Scotland.

Daughter Betty Nicol said Mrs Skene has dedicated her life to looking after others – firstly by leaving Aboyne Academy at just 13 to care for her sick mum.

“She was a grand mother,” Mrs Nicol said, reminiscing on her younger years when her mother would cook her and her nine other siblings a hot pan of stovies.

‘She would scrape out the pan for herself’

“I always remember when my mother made stovies – she would share them out between us and scrape out the pan for herself – she was wonderful.

“Her mother was ill and she had to leave the school at 13-and-a-half to look after her – she then worked in a barber shop before she got married.”

She met husband-to-be Jock at a dance.

The pair married on February 10, 1934 and went on to have 10 children.

Elsie Skene celebrates her 100th birthday at Drumdarroch care home, Insch. In the picture Elsie is flanked by her daughters, Betty Nicol, left and Nancy Allan. Picture by Jim Irvine.

Mrs Skene is now a grandmother to 26, great-grandmother to 39 and great-great-grandmother to 31 children.

She and her husband had “great times together” and “just enjoyed themselves” – often going away for trips together where they enjoyed ice creams.

Over the years they lived in Aboyne, Lumphanan and Inverurie before retiring to Insch in the 1980s.

Sadly, Mr Skene passed away on April 21, 1993 – just a year shy of their 60th wedding anniversary.

Elsie Skene at her 106th birthday with her daughters (L-R) Nancy Allan and Betty Nicol.

‘She is very strong’

Mrs Nicol and sister Nancy Allan then looked after their mother until she was 99, when she became a permanent resident of Drumdarroch Care Home in Insch.

“The girls at Drumdarroch always get great fun with her with some of the stuff she comes up with,” Mrs Nicol said.

“She is still just as feisty the girls say. She is very strong, she must have a good heart.”

When Mrs Skene turned 100, she suggested the secret to long life was hard work.

As well as raising her family, Mrs Skene worked in agriculture for many years, tending farms with her husband, and making cheese and butter.

An accomplished crafter, Mrs Skene also helped many charitable causes by donating her pieces of work.

Mrs Skene also bred dogs for a number of years, and was an accomplished breeder of various types, particularly West Highland terriers and poodles.

Scotland’s oldest person, Louisa Wilson, from Ayr, turned 109 in July.

Since publication, the daughter of a second woman in the north-east has said that her mother is nine months older than Mrs Skene.

Isabella Catherine Donald, who turns 108 in December was born in Auchterless on the 12th of the month in 1913 – 7 months before the start of World War I.

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