Triple treat for centenarians

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Eunice Alderson, Colin McMillan and Margaret Parmenter are celebrating their centenary birthdays this fortnight. Together, they are comemorating 304 years. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

CELEBRATIONS are in full swing at Invercargill’s Enliven Peacehaven Village as three residents celebrate a “major milestone”.

Colin McMillan celebrated his 100th birthday a few weeks ago, while Margaret Parmenter toasted her 104th birthday last weekend and Eunice Alderson would turn 100 on June 7.

Together, they are celebrating 304 years.

However, their celebrations would be different this year, with fewer people able to visit and more health and safety measures in place due to Covid-19.

Despite the different scenario, the trio all agreed they never imagined reaching such a milestone.

“I feel very good and proud. But never thought I would be celebrating 104 years old,” Mrs Parmenter said.

“I never thought much about it. I think I just got here. It is another day of life,” Mrs Alderson said.

The trio all grew up in Southland and had treasured memories of their early years.

Mrs Parmenter remembered playing basketball during her school days and her camping trips throughout New Zealand.

She said a lot had changed in the world during the past 100 years.

“The traffic is completely different. I used to see horses in the street. Now, a lot of cars.”

Mrs Alderson agreed.

“My mother did not allow me to bike to town because she thought it was dangerous. It is funny as we did not have many cars back then.”

Mrs Alderson said the biggest change was after the end of World War 2 in 1939.

“I remember when it was announced the war is over. I was listening on the radio and forgot that I had my washing on. I completely forgot about it until hours later. But it was a really happy day.”

Mrs Alderson said the men returned home wanting their jobs back but the women were “all over it”.

“It was a big change for everyone.”

She also believed the outbreak of Covid-19 would be a big change for everyone.

“It wasn’t bad here [in New Zealand]. They [the Government] did everything that could work, and it’s worked so far. We just can’t abuse,” she said with a laugh.

Mrs Alderson said she felt a bit more isolated with all the restrictions, but understood the situation.

“I have a quiet social life and now it has changed with the visitors’ rule. But that does not worry me much as I used to live alone.”

Mrs Parmenter and Mr McMillan already received their cards from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 2, congratulating them on their 100th birthdays.

“It is a very kind gesture,” Mrs Parmenter said.

Despite the celebrations having to be altered this year, Peacehaven staff were planning a big party for the trio when the time became appropriate as 304 years was something to be celebrated.

When asked about the secret to having a long and good life, Mrs Alderson advised the younger generation: “Have good faith and keep going.”

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