A much-loved community stalwart said she has “a lot to look back on and be thankful for” as she celebrated her 100th birthday with a cake, balloons and a pipe band.
Culter born and bred, Helen Brown met with dozens of people whose lives she has touched over the past century as she sat outside her home at the Coronation Court supported living complex.
They included Lord Provost Barney Crockett, who gave her his rendition of Happy Birthday, Deputy Lieutenant of Aberdeen Graham Guyan, who accompanied him on the barrel organ, and Peterculter councillor M. Tauqeer Malik, who paid tribute to Helen.
Councillor Malik said: “The whole family was amazing to me when I moved here about 22 years ago, and Helen said you are a member of our family.
“At the election in 2012, we had a team at Asda asking which political party they were going to support, and Helen said, we have only one party and our party’s name is Malik.
“I remember these kind words, and I am delighted she is 100, and she is delighted that she made it.”
Helen, who never married, lived her entire life in Culter, with the exception of a short period spent making ammunitions at a factory in Birmingham during the war.
Her niece Sylvia Brown said: “She made a lot of friends with her being Scottish, and she always said to them, nobody can say Peterculter, it was always, ‘She lived in the Royal Deeside’.
“She said if people can’t pronounce Culter, you just say Royal Deeside.”
After the war, she led the haulage department at Culter paper mills, with Sylvia saying many of the cards she received yesterday were from the ladies who worked there with her.
She was one of the founders of the popular Culter Mills Social Club, which was originally formed for workers at the mill but is still running today.
But Helen looks back most fondly on her work with the local branch of the Boys Brigade, with councillor Malik describing her family as the “backbone” of the organisation.
Sylvia said: “My grandparents and Helen did a lot for the Boys’ Brigade. There’s a big bouquet of flowers.
“They made a dumpling, it was a ritual every year. We drove up to Ballater to the Boys’ Brigade camp and presented them with a dumpling whether the young boys liked it or not!”
Helen said: “The Boys’ Brigade boys are my boys. They were my mother’s, then when my mother wasn’t affa well, they were passed on to me.
“And the loons said, if we didn’t have ma we’d have you.”
Asked what she attributes her longevity to, she said: “I attribute it most of all to my younger years, with the church and the Boys’ Brigade, to the Girl Guides.
“When I look back, I’ve got a lot to look back on and be thankful for – be thankful for the company that accepted me.”
She added: “We’ll just keep going on, make the best of life the best we can. I haven’t long to go now.
“So make the best of your life, and do what you can do, and then that’s your time for rest.”