Saltoun | Christine Gillies

Julie Murphy interview with Mrs Christine Gillies covering information 1970 – 1990s

Mrs Gillies came originally from Derry in Northern Ireland, and moved to East Lothian when she married in 1978. Her husband Willie works in the Pencaitland Maltings. After a year in Pencaitland and a year in Glenkinchie, they got a council house in West Crescent in East Saltoun, which they have now bought and extended. She can therefore provide information about the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

She started childminding when she had her own daughter in 1981. At that time there was one other childminder in East Saltoun and two in West Saltoun, but she is now the only one. She is registered to care for three children under five, and two aged between five and eight in her own home. She has no specific qualifications, but has always been a registered childminder. She is a member of the Scottish Childminders’ Association. Regulations for childminders have been tightened up considerably over the last 20 years. The premises have to conform to health and safety requirements, with smoke detectors etc. She and her family have to be SCRO checked by the police, and she has to have insurance liability. There is an annual inspection by the registering authority, for which she has to pay, but there could also be unannounced inspections. She thinks that because of this some people are no longer doing childminding, but those that continue with it run it more professionally as a small business. She works a long day, and will take children from any time between 7.30 in the morning until 7 at night, both in school terms and in the holidays. She has to be flexible, eg she will take children to the playgroup in the village and collect them from school.

The children she cares for come from several other neighbouring villages, as well as East Saltoun. Over the years, she has had children from Gifford, Pencaitland, Athelstaneford, Pilmuir, West Saltoun and Humbie as well as East Saltoun. Some of their parents work locally and some in Edinburgh. Several of the mothers work part-time or job-share.

The population has become more transient in the 20 years that she has lived in the village, and many of those moving in are professional people, who may move on after a few years.

Most of the council houses are now privately owned, although the SSHA houses are rented In conclusion, Mrs Gillies feels that the parish no longer has to be self-sufficient in terms of services. It is part of a wider network and, as people are more mobile, they are prepared to travel to wherever good services are provided. The only ones for whom this does not always work well are the elderly.

As Pencaitland has expanded and become more suburban, East Saltoun tends to identify more closely with other hillfoot villages, such as Gifford.