Sun shines on 100th birth­day party

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

The sun was out for the first day of spring as Joyce Law­son cel­e­brated her 100th birth­day.

The cen­te­nar­ian en­joyed a small morn­ing tea party sur­rounded by fam­ily and friends at the Everil Orr Vil­lage in Mt Al­bert last Tues­day.

Be­tween singing and read­ing of well-wishes from the Queen, prime min­is­ter, gov­er­nor gen­eral and mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, fond mem­o­ries of her life were shared by loved ones.

Mrs Law­son was born on Septem­ber 1, 1909, in Mt Eden to William and Ethel Bridge, the mid­dle of 11 chil­dren.

Rose Neal, Mrs Law­son’s 91-year-old sis­ter who also lives at the Vil­lage, says their par­ents were mar­ket gardeners and at one stage ran a fruit shop on Do­min­ion Rd.

“Joyce was good to her younger brother and sis­ters. She helped bring us up,” she says.

Her late hus­band Robert Law­son, a Scot­tish coal miner, was work­ing as a “rov­ing evan­ge­list” when he met his fu­ture wife in Man­gere.

The cou­ple mar­ried in 1935 and had six chil­dren – Sa­muel, David, Ruth, Jim, Bob and John – who they raised in New Lynn.

When Mr Law­son died 55 years ago, their youngest son John was just two years old.

As a 45-year-old widow, Mrs Law­son took sole charge of her fam­ily and brought them up as Open Brethren.

“God is good. He’s helped me ev­ery day,” she says.

In 1965 she be­came a grand­mother to the world’s fifth set of quin­tu­plets – and the first to be born in New Zealand.

Grand­son Layne West­ley says his grand­mother taught him and his cousins how to fish dur­ing hol­i­day breaks on Great Bar­rier Is­land.

“She looked af­ter us all by her­self. She taught us how to fish and never wor­ried about any­thing.”

When she was 86, Mr West­ley took her for a ride on his Har­ley David­son mo­tor­bike.

“She had never driven a mo­tor­bike or a car but there was no hes­i­ta­tion as she strad­dled this Har­ley,” re­calls her daugh­ter-in-law Irene Law­son.

“She’s a beau­ti­ful and gen­tle woman. Never judge­men­tal or rude and we are so lucky to have her in our lives.”

A large birth­day cel­e­bra­tion for Mrs Law­son was held in West Har­bour on Satur­day to ac­com­mo­date more than 120 guests, in­clud­ing her 22 grand­chil­dren, 28 great­grand­chil­dren and three great-great-grand­chil­dren.

Photo: CARLY TAWHIAO

Cel­e­brat­ing a cen­tury: 100-year-old Joyce Law­son says her faith in God helps her ev­ery day.

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