HAPPY BIRTH­DAY

Hilda Sim­mons marks a ma­jor mile­stone in turn­ing 101 to­day.

Coastal News - - Front Page - By ALISON SMITH [email protected]­news.co.nz

You could say that spe­cial souls like Hilda Sim­mons only come around every 100 years.

To­day is Hilda’s 101st birth­day, and while last year’s was a big one, Hilda was look­ing for­ward most of all to spend­ing time with her grand­chil­dren and great grand­chil­dren over a quiet af­ter­noon tea in Whanga­mata¯ .

“It seems to have come around very quickly,” says Hilda, who is look­ing lively and el­e­gant with a touch of lip­stick and her newly styled hair.

Hilda lives in­de­pen­dently in her home be­hind her son John and daugh­ter-and-in-law Marie’s Whanga­mata¯ home. She is un­aided when it comes to many of life’s daily rou­tines ex­cept for cook­ing, and en­joys out­ings to Whanga­mata¯ Club once a week to play pok­ies.

Hilda’s par­ents, Ada and Her­bert Green, lived in Ocean Rd in a lit­tle white cot­tage that her fa­ther built and which re­mains to­day.

“I don’t like go­ing back there be­cause it makes me sad. John tells me that’s silly be­cause they were happy years, and happy mem­o­ries.”

The for­mer re­tail as­sis­tant spent most Christ­mas hol­i­days here, re­call­ing days when there was no power, a wa­ter pump was run by a petrol mo­tor, and the butcher de­liv­ered meat once a week to be kept in a safe un­til it had to be cooked.

When asked what she thinks of the pace and pres­sures of life for her great grand­chil­dren, Hilda re­mem­bers New Zealand’s eco­nomic down­turns and the poverty.

“It was hard to be brought up when we were chil­dren. There were times when many peo­ple couldn’t get a job. But we had sim­ple plea­sures and you make the best of things.”

Hilda’s hus­band Vi­vian, who she met in Tau­maranui, also found it hard get­ting work af­ter re­turn­ing from the Cana­dian Air Force with hear­ing loss due to high al­ti­tude fly­ing.

“But we got through it all. We were very happy.”

In the month that Hilda was one -year-old there was ju­bi­la­tion over the end of World War I and the Span­ish in­fluenza was sweep­ing through the pop­u­la­tion.

“I was born in the same place as Jacinda Ardern,” she says of her Mor­rinsville roots, ad­ding that the card she re­ceived from the Prime Min­is­ter on her 100th birth­day was beau­ti­ful.

Hilda’s cen­tury of life has brought pe­ri­ods of ter­ri­ble sad­ness, when Vi­vian died sud­denly at the age of 50 with heart fail­ure, and when she lost a sis­ter in the Mt Ere­bus crash.

But longevity runs in the fam­ily, and when her fa­ther died at age 84, Hilda’s mother Ada moved in with her for 17 years un­til Ada died in her 102nd year.

“She was no trou­ble.”

Spend­ing time with her fam­ily at the beach in Whanga­mata¯ is one of the high­lights of Hilda’s 101 years, and she also loved ball­room danc­ing. There’s no ex­er­cise regime or diet to thank for her longevity — just genes.

“My cousin Ella Wil­son in Ro­torua is 104.”

Happy birth­day Hilda!

‘It was hard to be brought up when we were chil­dren. There were times when many peo­ple couldn’t get a job. But we had sim­ple plea­sures and you make the best of things.’

HILDA SIM­MONS, 101

PHOTO / ALISON SMITH

Hilda Sim­mons, who turns 101 to­day with her daugh­ter-in-law Marie and son John.

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