Lia Reynders is celebrating her 100th birthday for the third time in weeks with different groups of friends and family.
She turned 100 on April 15 but couldn’t celebrate her milestone birthday due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
On Wednesday morning, it’s a double birthday celebration with a friend of 20 years, David Fox who is celebrating his 90th birthday.
There is a lot of banter as a group of seniors from Manukau Age Concern step into the two vans loaned by Salvation Army Howick and Lion’s Club Papatoetoe. As part of the double birthday celebration, a trip to Bill’s Antique Toy Collection, in Whitford, has been arranged by David, a member of the Lion’s Club for 51 years.
Fox, who has been driving seniors for special outings for two decades, tells the old girls to behave themselves as there is a journalist on board. There is plenty of laughter as the ladies get into the van, ready for a day out.
Owned by Kathie and Bill McNabney, the private toy museum has a delightful morning tea awaiting the birthday celebrants and their friends. There is a special birthday cake baked by Kathie for the nonagenarian and the centenarian.
Somehow, the setting seems apt for Lia and David celebrating their second childhood at Bill’s enchanting playhouse of vintage toys, cars, aircraft, bicycles, tractors, prams, dolls and tin-plated trucks.
Most of the vintage toys have been restored by Bill and daughter Rachel. The rest have been inherited, gifted or bought.
Lia, who walks with a spring in her step, is even tempted to sit in Bill’s favourite car, a red and white Austin Pathfinder pedal car. She believes she is agile enough to squeeze in, till everyone else gently dissuades her.
“I can fit in,” says the 100-year-old ready to take on the challenge.
Some of that confidence probably stems from the fact that the lady of Dutch heritage does English country dancing twice a month at Highland Park.
Also a keen gardener, the Farm Cove resident grows her own vegetables and sends some of that produce to her daughter Connie.
The centenarian takes pride in the fact that every year she has crocheted six full-sized blankets for a charity, Operation Cover-up.
“Last year I could only crochet five blankets, and this year I managed just one blanket because I am losing sensation in my fingertips.”
But that hasn’t stopped her from baking bread, washing and cooking hot meals.
Lia belongs to three community groups including Counties Manukau Age Concern and Selwyn Seniors in Cook Street.
She says she joined the community groups at 80 when she realised she was losing her eyesight.
“I was going blind. I had a retinal detachment but you have to keep active and keep going. There is no other option,” she says.