Sun shines on 100th birthday party
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.
Celebrating a century: 100-year-old Joyce Lawson says her faith in God helps her every day.