100-year-old ‘as sharp as a dart’

After the initial surprise, Joyce was absolutely delighted to have family and friends at the surprise 100th birthday celebration. Times photo Wayne Martin.

She didn’t want any fuss to be made over her turning 100.

Joyce Heighway had warned her family and staff at the Somerset by the Park Retirement Village that she didn’t want any big celebration for her milestone birthday on November 21.

Yet on Wednesday morning, activities assistant Joanne Clark from Somerset By the Park Retirement Village  held a surprise morning tea for Joyce and invited family and friends to mark the special day. You don’t turn 100 every day, she said.

On the pretext of taking Joyce for a stroll after a visit to the hairdressers, the 100-year-old birthday girl was surreptitiously led down the corridor to a place where Joyce’s family was quietly waiting for her on level one.

Her daughters Margaret Peters and Helen Preston looked visibly worried about their mother’s reaction to the surprise morning tea. They weren’t sure how she’d take it.

Joyce, (centre) surrounded by daughters Margaret Peters (left), Helen Preston (right) and great grandson Lucas. Granddaughters Nikki Martin (left, back row) and Michelle Preston (right) were thrilled to be part of the birthday celebration. Times photo Wayne Martin.

The centenarian is clearly the matriarch of the family and rules the roost. As one of her family members put it, “She is as sharp as a dart.”

Till recently she was a member of the Auckland Trotting Club and would go regularly to the races with one of her friends.

However Joyce’s daughters needn’t have panicked. After the initial surprise, the feisty great-grandmother was delighted on seeing her close family and friends on the grand occasion.

There was also a special bouquet of flowers from Rotarian George Wilson who had made it a point to be there.  “Joyce is a very special personal. Both her husband and she were Rotarians and were always there to help the Rotary Club of Papakura,” he said. “Joyce used to do the amazing bake sales and help us with the fundraising. I couldn’t have possibly missed her 100th birthday.”

Once she cut her birthday cake, Joyce proudly declared to the <ITALICS>Times, “Luckily I have all my faculties intact.

“My dad use to be a milkman and he died in his sixties because he used to get wet in the rain delivering milk. But my mum and my sisters all lived well over 85.

“My husband and I used to run a dairy and everyone said that I worked very hard. But I don’t think so. I just kept long hours and was on my feet. And that is what kept me fit,” she said revealing the secret behind her longevity.