Central Taxis' surprise party as customer turns 100

16 March 2015

Edinburgh Evening News - by Paris Gourtsoyannis, photo courtesy of Neil Hanna 16th March 2015

For 30 years, Christine Gibson ordered a cab from Central Taxis every Saturday morning to take her for her hair appointment, always tipping her driver with a pound and a sweet from her handbag – usually a chocolate from a box of Roses.

Living alone with no surviving family, as her 100th birthday approached Mrs Gibson assumed she would spend it on her own, without any fanfare or celebration.

But drivers and staff at Central had other plans, laying on flowers, champagne, a cake and a tour of their HQ for their favourite customer. Instead of ordering a cab, Mrs Gibson even got to don a headset and dispatch some taxis herself.

Birthday girl Mrs Gibson declared herself “gobsmacked” that the cab firm had thought of her, and said: “I didn’t think so many people liked me.”

After decades living alone, the centenarian said Central Taxis had become like family. Mrs Gibson has no children, and her husband Sandy died just before moving into their home at Wardiefield, which they had chosen because he had been a merchant seaman and wanted to live near the shore.

Mrs Gibson said: “I was really quite gobsmacked. I’ve never liked to draw attention to myself really. I feel lucky that I’ve got to that age. I’ve had a good life. It was a very happy day. I have no children, and all my people and my husband’s people are away, so I have no-one at all by myself.

“At the moment I can do most things by myself – but I’ve never done my own hair. I go every Saturday. It’s just a thing that I like to do.”

She added: “Although I stay by myself, I never feel alone. I’ve got my puzzle books that I do in the house.”

Central Taxis boss Tony Kenmuir said staff at the firm enjoyed the day as much as Mrs Gibson, who has lost none of her sharp wit despite her 100 years.

He said: “We regularly take her to Muse Hairdressers on Ferry Road on a Saturday morning and contacted the staff there.

“Arrangements were made for us to surprise her there with flowers and a bottle of champagne to celebrate her birthday. Asking what other plans she had, she told us that all of her family were gone and she wouldn’t be celebrating.

“So we invited her to come and have a tour of our new headquarters building, meet all the staff who regularly answer her calls and share a birthday cake with us. She is a remarkably energetic and humorous lady who kept the office staff entertained all afternoon.

“After testing the equipment in the call centre for herself we held a party where Mrs Gibson told us that she has thought of the office staff and taxi drivers at Central as her friends for many years but she was quite overwhelmed by the attention.”

Mr Kenmuir added: “Recent reports from drivers indicate that her tips have further improved lately with her increasing closeness to the Central team – we’ve heard of a Yorkie and a four-finger Kit-Kat landing in the change trays recently.”