Dalzell recollections of Margaret (97) are commended in short story contest

A Motherwell woman who is nearly 100 has painted a picture of history by writing down her memories of her upbringing on the Dalzell estate between the wars – and it has been commended in a short story competition aimed at the over 90s!

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 3:18 pm
Knowetop School

Margaret Najda (97) lived on the estate from 1927 to 1938 from the period when she was four until she was 16- and left Dalziel High School two years beforehand.

Her father had looked after Lord Hamilton's poultry and Margaret used her vivid memories of that point in time to sum up and dictate her memories of that place in time to her grandson during lockdown.

It was a perfect fit for the contest run by Growing Old Disgracefully Trust as the them was 'Childhood Memories.' - and was judged by authors like Peter James, Virginia McKenna, Lauren St James and journalist and presenter Nicholas Owen.

Margaret Najda

Margaret now lives with daughter Ruth in Edinburgh who was at pains to tell the Motherwell Times the good news about how this link with the past has vividly come to life again simply by being written down for posterity in this unexpected way.

Ruth said: "It really is of local interest because of the context - the inter-war period and relationships between workers and gentry and the characters themselves.

"These are my mum, her friend, her friend's dad the butler and Lady Hamilton. My mum and her grandson Stefan both really enjoyed working together to hone the story."

Jackie Flaherty who is a trustee of the Growing Old Disgracefully foundation said: "It is a wonderful story and beautifully written."

Here is an extract from the story which has brought memories flooding back.

“I was good friends with Harriet, the butler's daughter. We always walked to school together down the big avenue on the estate. We sometimes saw the toffs there, walking their dogs and riding horses.

Most common was the lady of the house, Lady Hamilton. She was a lovely woman, used to rescue the wee birds that got trapped in the farmer's strawberry nets.

She would sit on the ground and untie the birds. That's how they said she got the chill that went to pneumonia that she died from, it was very sad.

After she died, Lord Hamilton started getting visits from royalty again. They didn't visit before because Lady Hamilton was a divorcee. In those days they were very strict about those sorts of things. Lady Hamilton walked her dogs, two great yellow ones. The mother was on the lead and the other would bound towards us.

The Lady would say “She’s just a baby she won’t harm you.” When she walked past she put her monocle on and examined us but she never spoke. Well lo and behold this one day we were walking down the avenue and we saw Lady Hamilton coming.We kept walking, the big dogs barking and Lady Hamilton put her monocle on as she normally did.”