Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.
Past Times

A rags to riches story: Founders of Finnies the Jeweller celebrate 65 years of marriage

Peggy and Ron Finnie's long love story is marked with joy and pride— while not forgetting their humble and difficult origins.
Susy Macaulay
Peggy and Ron Finnie of Finnies The Jeweller, celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary on March 28, 2024  Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Peggy and Ron Finnie of Finnies The Jeweller, celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary on March 28, 2024 Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Tomorrow, March 28, is a special day for one of Aberdeen’s best-known couples.

It marks their wedding anniversary, and this year Ron and Peggy Finnie are celebrating 65 years together through thick and thin.

The couple founded Finnies the Jeweller on George Street, and nowadays can look back not only on the success of that much-loved shop, but also on decades of being able to give back to their community in all sorts of ways.

But amid the glitter and glamour of the gold and precious stones they’ve been surrounded by for six decades lies a lesser-known story.

The rags to riches story of Finnies founders

Peggy and Ron Finnie at home in Cults  in the run up to their 65th wedding anniversary on March 28. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

It would be easy to think that Peggy and Ron came from silver spoon backgrounds themselves to have built up such a successful business.

The reality is completely different.

Both came from humble and difficult backgrounds.

Ron, 89, was born in Elgin, one of four siblings.

Peggy says his father was “not wonderful.”

Ron’s mother’s tragically early death

Unfortunately, the family was broken up when Ron was five after the death of his mother.

Ron and his seven-year-old brother were sent to live in Fraserburgh with their father’s sister.

Eventually Ron ended up in the children’s home in Aberdeen because the Fraserburgh family couldn’t keep him.

Peggy aged 5 in 1945. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Meantime Peggy, 85, was born in Sheffield and things were difficult for her too.

She says: “My father was illiterate, controlling and an alcoholic womaniser.

“My mum was a lovely lady. But it was a tough life, a job to survive.

“My sister is five years older than me, and looked out for me.  She means the world to me.

Difficult early years prepared Finnies the Jeweller founders for life

“My father wouldn’t allow my mother to work, so we were poor with second-hand everything.”

The challenges of their early years made them both very strong, Peggy adds.

Peggy as a young girl. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Although they grew up many miles apart, Peggy only had to wait until the age of sixteen before she met the love of her life.

Miraculously, they both ended up in Grimsby, where Ron had joined the RAF for national service and was stationed at RAF Binbrook.

He had trained as a watchmaker by doing evening classes at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.

Ron was able to use his watchmaking skills with the RAF

At Binbrook he was put onto bombsight making because of his ability to handle small tools, as a watchmaker.

So how did Peggy, a Sheffield girl, end up in Grimsby?

Her father had moved to the town for work, and to try and buy a house.

Ron and Peggy met at a dance hall in Cleethorpes.

Peggy and Ron in their courting days in 1956. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Peggy says although Ron was classically good-looking, it was his impeccable and respectful manners that won her over.

Three years later on March 28, 1959, they were married.

Peggy made her own wedding dress

Peggy recalls: “I made my own dress. It cost 30 shillings.”

The couple were given wedding presents which Peggy stored in a tea chest and would later sell to fund their fledgling business.

Peggy and Ron Finnie on their wedding day in 1959. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Ron was given £150 by his father, which would later enable him to rent a room in St  Nicholas Street, Aberdeen to carry out repairs for other watchmakers.

The first work offer to come Ron’s way when he left the RAF was for a job in Bulawayo, Africa.

Peggy said: “Ron asked me if I wanted to go there, and I said, I’ve only ever been on a train between Grimsby and Aberdeen, no thank you.

“It was the best decision.”

Ron and Peggy getting ready to leave on honeymoon after their wedding in 1959. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

The couple headed north to Aberdeen, where Ron ran his watchmaking repair business on St Nicholas Street, and Peggy worked as a dental nurse.

Becoming pregnant at that point wasn’t in the plan, but five months later, Peggy found herself expecting their first child, daughter Sarah.

Their landlord was unimpressed, and told them to look for other digs.

Peggy gave up work, and harsh financial times continued.

Ronald Finnie  in the George Street shop. Image: DCT

But the couple decided to open their own shop, Finnies, at 193 George Street.

At this point, Peggy’s inner talent for business came to the fore, and she cracked open that tea chest and sold their wedding presents to buy stock for their shop.

“It was a disciplined life,” Peggy says. “I would boil Sarah’s nappies in a jam pan at night in a rented property.

“We’d be up at 6am.

Hard work in the early days of Finnies the Jeweller

“Sarah would be in the back shop with Ron while I was front of house with customers.

“I learned to string pearls and would write to companies to ask for stock, sale or return.”

Finnies’ customer base grew by word of mouth, but still things weren’t easy.

Peggy said: “We worked and worked.

“If we couldn’t afford it, we didn’t have it. Everything was second hand.”

Finnies in its George Street location.</p> <p>

When it was obvious they needed bigger premises, they moved to Finnies current premises in George Street.

“It was a nightmare building, but friends helped us to do it up.

“We employed one, then two people.”

Finnies now employs 50 people.

Ron and Peggy had four children

Along the way, Peggy and Ron had four children, Sarah, born in 1960, Rebekah in 1963, Emma in 1966 and finally Matthew in 1972.

They lived in Cults and had a busy family life with the usual activities and getting deeply involved with the community.

Peggy says it was then that she came out of the shell so badly damaged by her childhood, becoming more outgoing instead of being nervous, stammering and  withdrawn.

Peggy supporting the Manor Project, a residential care home for people with learning disabilities. Left to right: Peggy Finnie resident, Margaret McPherson and Hydro Electric, electrician, Gary Nivens. Image: Jim Irvine/DCT

She said: “We built up a good circle of friends, and I got involved with Cults West Church Sunday school and ran playgroups and summer play schemes.

“I also ran art classes in Peterculter on Saturdays with a friend.”

How Finnies the Jeweller founders have been supporting their community for years

The couple’s support of their local community has been tireless.

She and Ron have always preferred to buy local and support local businesses with their custom.

Peggy started a social café in Inchgarth Community Centre and has seen it go from strength to strength.

Peggy Finnie introduced members of the AIYF Emerald Isle Dance Company (Ireland) to her Tea Room, at the Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee in 2011. Left to right: Katie Abbey, 10, Lea Emanuel, 14 and Jennifer Carroll, 14. Image: Colin Rennie/DCT.

The café was renamed Peggy’s Tea Room in her honour in 2010.

She’s a long time supporter of Friends of Anchor, the charity which supports funding of the Anchor Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

For a week in 2010 she rolled her sleeves up and ran a charity shop in aid of the Manor Project in Tillydrone.

Help and support for St Machar from Ron and Peggy

The couple have greatly supported St Machar Academy in different ways including donating musical instruments and prizes for prize-giving.

And instead of having a big party on their 60th wedding anniversary, Ron and Peggy gifted the school a complete new sound system.

Peggy built up a collection of 500 teddy bears and sold most for charity.

Peggy pictured at home with Ron on nearing the news of Peggy’s MBE in the 2009. Image: Kami Thomson/DCT

The list is endless, so it’s hardly surprising that in 2009, Peggy was made an MBE for decades of service to her community.

She and Ron were both made burgesses of the city, while Ron is also a trade burgess.

Eventually they were able to build their big house in Cults but are now downsizing and it’s for sale.

Their nine grandchildren, aged 10 to 37, are their pride and joy and keep them on their toes.

Diamond Wedding: Ron and Peggy Finnie celebrating their diamond wedding at their home in Cults in 2019. Image: Colin Rennie/DCT

Ron has health issues but Peggy is determined to care for him herself, despite her own health issues.

On their blue sapphire anniversary milestone, she said: “I’m a strong character and a go-getter, not always easy. I just want to thank Ron for the wonderful life we had together.”

More like this:

Finnies the Jeweller opens new look boutique after seven-figure investment