By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Photos by ALLAN STEPHEN Letitia Martha Chute has weathered life’s uphill battles and if there is anyone who has been through the mill it has to be her. In January, her 5 children, 31 grandchildren, 62 greatgrandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren honoured this remarkable woman as she reached a milestone 94th birthday. Trying her best to recall all the years gone by, Letty, as she is better known, today does not have any regrets about the decisions she made and the life she had, despite it being a roller-coaster ride.She recollects that her father Ian McGregor was of Scottish descent and used to work as a forester with the Fiji Government. Straight talker Letty was born on 27th January 1924 in Dociu Estate Udu Point, Vanua Levu—much to the delight of her mother Cometa Hill. “I was brought up by my mother and her relatives and was especially close to my grandfather.” “My maternal great grandmother was from the chiefly island of Bau. Her name was Adi Mere Bulitaudua and she was married to Thomas Fowler Pickering. They had seven children, five sons and two daughters: Ida who married a Whippy and my grandmother Ella married Frank Hill”. “My father Ian McGregor later went on to have three daughters Alita, Lina and Anita and two sons Ian and Robert.” “Today my siblings live in Australia and we do keep in touch”. “My mother later married Timoci Varani, a gentleman from Yasawa Cakaudrove. He loved me as his own daughter. My step-father Timoci went as far as registering me in the Vola Ni Kawa Bula as his eldest child because he didn’t want me to feel lost or left out.” The couple helped Letty’s grandfather manage the copra plantation and looked after part of the land at Dociu. They gave Letty six brothers and three sisters. She remembers enjoying life on the Estate because she “got on very well with everyone”. One of Letty’s granduncles who came to visit from Labasa decided to take her back with him so she could go to school
94-year-old matriarch, Letitia Chute, relaxes at home.