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Eddie Reid of Haddington

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Eddie Reid was perhaps more notable as a recluse than a hermit, but when The Scotsman reported the death of the 84 year old retired farmer in 2002, it described him as The £17m hermit, after revealing he had left a £27 million fortune in his will.

Mr Reid's grandfather was reported to have owned Woodhall coal mine in Pencaitland, and his father had played football for Hearts.

His family had owned two farms near Haddington: West Blance, which had some 100 acres of land, and Hermiston which had 300 acres.

Following the death of his father in 1967, he sold the larger Hermiston and moved to West Blance with his mother. After her death in 1974 he sold the land at West Blance for £60,000 and moved into the farmhouse, where he continued to live until September 2001, when social services moved him into the Hilton Lodge Nursing Home, in Haddington.

To the outside world, he appeared to be a frugal pensioner who lived close to poverty in a run down farmhouse. His housekeeper had visited on Wednesdays and Thursdays for 29 years, but had no idea of his wealth, and described him as thrifty. She said he never spent money on treats for himself, and that the house was always cold, as there was no central heating, while his outlays only seemed to be for food, as he ate fairly well, and £25 each week for her work in the house. The only time she saw him get angry or upset was when his kettle broke, and had to be replaced. On one occasion, a neighbour took a meal to his his home. Said to have been grudgingly accepted, she realised it was not an offer to repeat.

Mr Reidís only real extravagance seems to have been a second-hand M-registration Fiesta which he had purchased in 1999 for £1,500, and would occasionally drive to nearby beauty-spots such as North Berwick, when the weather was fine.

On his death Mr Reid had almost £1.3 million in the local bank, and his shares with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, and HSBC were worth more than £13 million. The rest of his money was invested in other stocks, and had grown in value following the sale of the two family farms.

Mr Reid had no close relatives, and was survived by three cousins he was said to have seen only twice in 25 years, and were shocked to learn that they had become millionaires, having believed their cousin was a "relatively poor" man.

A former neighbour said: "He certainly didnít behave as if he was rich. He was a bit of a recluse. He shopped every Tuesday and Friday and he would never accept any charity. I offered to cut his grass for free but he refused. I offered to cut his grass once a month for £25 and he accepted. He always paid in cash. When I saw him I would wave but we rarely spoke to each other. He was fiercely independent and just stuck to this routine."

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