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Not many of us will be fortunate enough to celebrate our 100th birthday, but local lass Cathie Potter will be doing just that tomorrow (Friday June 12).
Despite being in lockdown, Cathie has many happy memories of her life in Lorn to fall back on and, thanks to her daughter Kareen, can share just a few with us ahead of her big day.
Catherine Potter, nee MacCall, was born on June 12, 1920, at Knipochmore, Kilmore, the third of six children born to Malcolm and Catherine MacCall.
Her earliest memories are of playing on the shores of Loch Feochan, the coal boat arriving to be unloaded by horse and cart, and the annual salmon netting. A great highlight was a circus passing through on the way to Kilninver.
She remembers going to Oban to see the last of the evacuees from St Kilda arriving at the pier.
Cathie attended Kilmore school, walking the three miles from the age of four, before progressing to a bicycle when she went on to study at Oban High School.
Cathie completed her nursing training in the Southern General Hospital, returning to the area to nurse at Dalintart hospital in Oban and then the military hospital in Killin where she met Thomas Potter from Manchester. A Sergeant in the Cameronians, Tom was recovering after being wounded. The couple married in Kilmore Church in March 1943, and held their reception in McGillvary’s guest house beside Kilmore shop.
When Tom was posted to Cultybraggan Camp in Comrie, Cathie and their first child Irene moved to be near him. Cathie can remember hearing the POWs being marched from the train to the camp and singing at the top of their voices.
VE Day was a time of mixed emotions for Cathie as Tom had been posted to Burma, part of the Forgotten Army still fighting the Japanese, while her brother Duncan had been held for five years as a POW in Germany.
When Tom returned, the couple set up home in Dunstaffnage and Tom worked for Oban Town Council as a painter and decorator. Cathie recalls Dunstaffnage being a very friendly village with lots of young families, and life centred around the Nissen Hut School which also served as the village hall. Their son Iain was born at home there.
After moving to Oban and Loch Awe they bought the old youth hostel in Dalmally and built their house An Airigh, and it was here Kareen was born.
Cathie and Tom were very involved in the life of Glenorchy Church, running the Sunday school for 25 years, both serving as elders, organising Christmas parties and fundraisers that allowed them to purchase the font and praise board for the venue.
As a fluent Gaelic speaker, Cathie has been a lifetime supporter of Gaelic culture and tutored her children in Gaelic in preparation for national and local MODs. On moving to Taynuilt she became a regular attendee at the local ceilidhs as well as the local flower show and SWRI.
Cathie says she has had a great life so far but would love to have travelled more. However she did manage three trips to Brisbane to visit her grandson, the first being when she was 81 years old.
Last year Cathie moved to North Argyll House and now enjoys a beautiful view of Oban bay and the islands, and the kindness and care of the people who help her.
She is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday with her children, seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren just as soon as it is safe for everyone to meet again.