Meet Mrs Betty Fraser Harris, one of our lovely guests who recently visited Shieldhill Castle to celebrate her 100th Birthday. Mrs Harris shared lovely stories with us that day, and we asked her son if it would be okay for us share her wonderful story with you.
Mrs Harris was born (in 1922!) and brought up in a townhouse in Moray Place in Edinburgh, spending most summer holidays in the hills around Broughton and the head-waters of the Tweed. During the war she trained as a physiotherapist and worked in Edinburgh and later at Stoke Mandeville Hospital where she worked under Dr Guttmann the founder of what eventually became the Paralympic Games. Soon after she went to visit some family friends who were living in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where she met her husband who was working there as an army officer. Soon after they were married at West Linton Kirk and Baddinsgill.
For the next decade they lived where the army sent them – Malaya and Germany and the UK – in the meantime having 2 sons – one of whom now lives in Symington and the other in Somerset.
Tragically her husband died in 1963 and she came to live in a hidden gem of a house in the Pentland hills beyond Dolphinton, where thanks to a team of friends and carers, she still lives.
When Mrs Harris takes something up she likes to do it well according to her son, so although she started with the normal Blackface it was not long before she was breeding pedigree Shetland sheep and ended up with the Best in Breed Champion Shetland ram in the Royal Highland Show.
Next she learned how to spin and dye the wool produced by her sheep and turn it into beautiful items of clothing before turning her hand to felt-making and quilt-making, resulting in many more artistic creations.
Sadly she has had to retire from production but spends her time enjoying her beautiful garden set among the hills where the Medwin meets the Westwater.
This year she celebrated her 100th birthday and a party had been planned, but unfortunately Covid threw a spanner in the works, as it did to so many people, (with both sons contracting the virus on the same day a week before the party) and the guest list had to be dramatically truncated.
She was extra delighted when Shieldhill Castle kindly welcomed her to her absolute favourite treat: extra-chocolatey chocolate cake and coffee. “The friendly staff made her feel like royalty and gave her a real buzz.” said her son.
We were thrilled to have met Mrs Harris, and be a part of her special celebrations. We wish her all the health and happiness and hope to see her for her 101th birthday.