Jeannie was known fondly as ‘Auntie’ not just by members of the Hutchison clan but by many other Whalsay residents, though she had no children of her own. Her early working life was as a gutter and packer moving from fish station to station with the herring fleets as they traveled along the North Sea coast up towards Shetland following the ‘silver darlings’. It was then that she learned many songs from the other girls. Her husband Thomas died in 1941 after a long illness but Jeannie survived him for another 61 years and reached the fine age of 105. The second photo here was taken in 1989 when she was 92 . She is well remembered for her kindliness, her caring and good spirit and her great knowledge of local history and tradition including, of course, songs.
Thelma Hughson provided this information about Jeannie via her cousin Janet Irvine in a lively exchange of emails:
As du kens she did travel for mony years ta da gutting in Lowestoft and Yarmouth on da “Gutters Expresss” – a train specially laid on fae Aberdeen ta tak da gutters, coopers etc. fae Shetland and East Coast doon da country. My personal favourite story about Auntie’s travels is when she set off fae Shetland ta be bridesmaid ta Auntie Meegie when she married during WW1 in Gamrie. Apparently da North Sea was full of German mines and they all had to sleep in dir life jackets, in addition it surely wis a very rough trip away.
Auntie was a carer all her life and I always mind Mam saying when Nan Mary wis ill and practically bedbound she wid look oot da window after tea time and see Auntie coming doon “Margaret’s Gaet” and feel such a relief ta keen she would be about for a few hours.”
Our thanks go to Marina Irvine for providing the two photographs.