A WOMAN held a celebration marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day in memory of her mum who died after testing positive for Covid-19.

Irene Grant spent last Friday saying farewell to her mother Mary Jane Goulding (née Graham) at a funeral parlour before returning for afternoon tea in the garden of her home on Rope Walk, Prestonpans.

She was preparing to spend the day alone but Musselburgh’s Yarnbombers group – famous for their wool-based community art displays – had arranged to leave ‘Jock and Jeannie,’ a knitted ‘couple’, who were due to have pride of place at a street party at Musselburgh’s Brunton Hall, outside her home.

The public event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but Irene, who was brought up in Musselburgh, was determined to mark the occasion the way her 89-year-old mum would have wanted.

Irene went to her doorstep at 11am to observe the nation’s twominute silence before she and her neighbours had afternoon tea in their own gardens as well as a social distance singalong featuring an emotional rendition of ‘We’ll Meet Again.”

Irene, a member of the yarnbombers, decorated her garden with knitted cakes, a ‘grow your own vegetables’ display and put up bunting – in keeping with the group’s tradition of brightening up Musselburgh with different knitted displays since the Riding of the Marches in 2016.

A founder member of Musselburgh’s Clark Concert Party, she said: “I was at the undertaker making arrangements for mum and came home to Jock and Jeannie sitting on my steps. It was an amazing surprise – although I got the fright of my life. You have no idea how much it cheered me up and gave me a much needed laugh. My friends in the Yarnbombers decided I needed company. I was determined to go ahead with a wee party, although I live on my own and have no one to celebrate with. Mum was in a nursing home and the family had not seen her for eight weeks nor were we permitted to be with her at the end.”

Mary, who was resident at Drummond Grange Nursing Home at Lasswade, took a “severe decline” two weeks before her death.

Irene said: “She was not eating or drinking. Everyone thought she had ‘turned her back to the wall’ with being in isolation. Her attending doctor thought she would test her for Covid and we got the news that it was positive. Mum had shown no symptoms whatsoever. She died on Sunday, May 3.”

Mary was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, in March 1931, where her parents George and Mary Graham had emigrated to after her father was laid off during the General Strike of 1926.

They returned to Prestonpans four years later and Mary, her two sisters and three brothers, enjoyed “an extremely happy childhood” at their home in Nethershot.

Her dad was a miner at Prestongrange colliery all his working life.

Mary married her husband Jim Goulding on March 28, 1952, at Newcraighall Church, and Irene and her sister Janice had a happy childhood growing up at Galt Crescent in Musselburgh.

Mary worked as a carer/home help until her retirement.

After she and Jim divorced, she moved to South Street where she lived for a few years before moving to amenity housing on Hercus Loan.

She was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2011 and, in 2015, went into care, latterly becoming a resident at Drummond Grange.

Irene said: “This became her home and our family will never be able to thank the staff there enough for the love and care they showed her, particularly in these past weeks. One observation about the staff came from the undertaker who said ‘they had dressed your mum in her Sunday best and she looked gorgeous’.”

She added: “We cannot be sad that mum has gone because of the torment her mind was in for so long but we are all devastated with the circumstances in which she went – not seeing any of us for so long. For the first time in any of our lives, we missed being with her on her birthday and on Mother’s Day. It is such a tragic way to end a long fruitful life. She was so caring to everyone and had a wicked sense of humour which transcended the generations.”

A spokesperson for the nursing home said: “We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends who have lost a loved one in this awful pandemic. Mary was a much loved member of the community who treated everyone with kindness and respect, and will be dearly missed.”

Mary had bequeathed her body to medical science but this cannot happen in the current circumstances, so her funeral took place at Seafield Crematorium on Wednesday, which was attended by her immediate family.

She is survived by her daughters Irene and Janice, four grandchildren, her sisters Isobel and Georgie, and many friends particularly Faye and Rod Gibson.

The family have set up The Mary Goulding Celebration Fund to raise money for Alzheimer Scotland.

To donate go to https://marygoulding.muchloved.com