A woman born just days before the end of the First World War celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday, putting her longevity down to “not eating porridge” and “keeping busy”.
Originally from Cromarty, Catherine MacAulay spent her big day having a tea party with a group of more than 50 family and friends.
Now living in Midmar with her daughter Helen Robertson, Mrs MacAulay reflected on a life that has seen her mingling with stars and royalty.
She said: “I don’t like
“We get back from this world what we put into it”
porridge and I think the secret to long-life must be spending your time properly – I used to do a lot of charity work.”
Mrs MacAulay studied at Edinburgh’s Domestic Science College before the Second World War broke out and went on to work in the city’s five-star L’Aperitif restaurant where she met many film stars, including Bob Hope, Ginger Rogers and Bette Davis.
The restaurant often catered for the royal family when they stayed at Holyrood and Mrs MacAulay also remembers working at a ball in Kirriemuir where Princess Margaret was the guest of honour.
“She was too lovely,” recalled Mrs MacAulay. “I opened the door from the pantry in time to meet her cartwheeling down the corridor. She simply said ‘Oops! – I am enjoying myself ’.”
During the war, Mrs MacAulay, or Miss Clark as she was then, joined the Wrens and worked as catering housekeeper at La Maison Franco Ecossaise in Charing Cross.
In 1942, she moved to RAF Leuchars, becoming the catering manageress until the end of the war when she returned to Cromarty for a short time before taking up her old position in Edinburgh.
It was while in Edinburgh she met civil engineer Robert MacAulay, whom she married in 1951. Daughter Helen arrived a few years later. The family spent some time in Zambia, where Mrs MacAulay ran the women’s school in Chalimbana, near Lusaka.
They eventually returned to Cromarty in 1960, but sadly Robert died in 1966 following a long struggle with a heart condition.
Mrs MacAulay worked in Cromarty’s Royal Hotel for a time before buying her own restaurant, The Byre.
She said: “It was quite popular and we made it into the Good Food Guide – a first for Cromarty and the Black Isle.”
Having lived on the coast for so many years, Mrs MacAualay’s charity of choice when organising her many fundraising events was always the RNLI.
This year for her birthday she has asked her friends and family all donate to the charity instead of presents.
“I believe we all have a guardian angel,” said Mrs MacAulay. “And that we get back from this world what we put into it.”
FAMILY: Catherine MacAulay with granddaughters, from left, Vicki Wilson, Emily Veall, Kerry Wilson and daughter Helen Robertson