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Retired Macduff bank manager celebrates his 100th birthday at his home in Huntly

By Pat Scott

A man who was one of a family of ten celebrated his 100th birthday on Wednesday.

Irvine Brown, who lives at James Presley Court, with his wife Evelyn, was the fourth child to be born into the family of five sons and five daughters on a farm near Crudie.

Only two remain, a sister now aged 94, and Irvine but all of his siblings enjoyed long lives despite a hard upbringing with few treats which had to be earned by hard graft such as cleaning out hen houses.

Irvine's war service and his Doric accent almost proved fatal for him. Cockney soldiers who heard him speak in Doric thought he was a German and fired their rifles before realising their mistake.

Educated at Crudie School and Banff Academy, Irvine had to leave the farm to find employment and went to work with the Northern Bank in Gardenstown, cycling the nine miles each way on a sports model bike.

He was called up when war broke out and sailed from Liverpool on a troops ship to Africa.

A colour sergeant with The Gordon Highlanders,he fought in the Battle of El Alamein, and made his way back up through Europe with the regiment. When Holland was flooded he contracted nephritis and was forced to return home.

When the war ended Irvine resumed his career in the bank, although he always hankered over joining his father and brothers on the farm.

He progressed with the bank and spent some time in Rhynie, Insch and Huntly before being made branch manager in Macduff, of what was by then the Clydesdale Bank, handling the accounts of fishermen and farmers, which took him back to his roots.

He recalled: "It was a time when managers decided on overdrafts and could make things difficult for customers ensuring that they spent their money wisely."

It was while still a young bank worker in Gardenstown that Irvine met the woman who was to become his wife.

They met at a badminton match in the village where he established that Evelyn, a secretary was single. On the return leg of the match in Evelyn's home town of Whitehills, Irvine, who still has a cheeky twinkle in his eye, asked her out, and after a short courtship they were married in 1949.

They have three sons, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

After retiring in 1980, they returned to live in Insch where Irvine was able to indulge his love of golf. He also took up picture framing and upholstery.

Irvine keeps perfect health but the legacy of gunshot at El Alamein means his hearing is poor.

He still has a good appetite, a hearty bowl of porridge and a banana set Irvine up each day and he likes nothing better than a chocolate biscuit.

Irvine and his family treated fellow residents to a party at James Presley Court on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate his birthday.

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