Alexandria resident Bessie Irving celebrated her 107th birthday this month – but age is just a number to the “bright as a button” centenarian.

Recently her niece, Mary Cook, was surprised to discover what her aunt had been getting up to at Balquhidder Care Home, where she has lived since March last year.

“About five or six weeks ago I went in and I couldn’t find her, so I asked where she was and the carer told me ‘oh she’s down having Spanish lessons’,” Mary told the Reporter.

“So I sneaked down and there she was having a good time and holding up placards with Spanish words. It just proves you are never too old to learn.”

As well as receiving her fourth birthday message from the Queen, which she was delighted about, Bessie celebrated the big occasion with an afternoon tea at Balquhidder, attended by Provost William Hendrie, Deputy Provost Karen Conaghan and Deputy Lieutenant Owen Sayers.

“She got more flowers than we know what to do with and nice wee pressies and the chef made a lovely cake for her,” Mary added.

Read more: Alexandria resident Bessie celebrates 106th birthday

Born Elizabeth Louisa McRoberts on April 25, 1912 in Motherwell, Bessie left school at 14 years old and secured a general maid position at Westerton House, just outside of Balloch, before later being promoted to cook.

It was there she met her husband James, known, as Jimmy who was from the neighbouring farm Blairhosh Farm and after their wedding in 1945, they spent their married life at Blairhosh Cottage until Jimmy’s death at the age of 54.

Bessie continued to live at the cottage with her two brother in laws, Tom and David and when they died the farm and cottage were sold and Bessie moved to Alexandria.

When she was 80 she moved into Bield retirement housing, where she spent many happy years, before moving to Balquhidder where she enjoys the activities and company of the other residents.

Mary said: “Balquhidder have been very kind to her and really adore her because I think she’s such an inspiration. She’s always keeping them in check and the girls think she’s marvellous.

“Shes loves the school children coming in. They have had the Shetland ponies in too and Motorbike Millie, the Bichon Frise comes to visit, which she loves because she loves animals.

“They have a big skittles set and when they are playing you can hear her laughing at the other end of the corridor.

“My aunt has always had a good sense of humour and it’s improving all the time actually. She’s a very gentle soul, good-hearted and always kind to other people.”

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