By Helen Martin
There must be something in the water. Craigwell House has celebrated yet another centenarian birthday when five-year resident Grace Downer turned 100 on June 17.
Grace was born in Rotorua in 1916, was a foundation pupil at Rotorua High School and then a pupil at Epsom Girls Grammar. After moving to Dargaville she worked for the Northern Wairoa Dairy Company, relocating to Helensville with her Helensville-born husband Ron Downer and son Ken in 1945 when Ron came here to become the postmaster. Sons Jim and Peter were born in Helensville and Grace, who had learned to knit when she was five, found friends when she was invited to join local knitting group The Knitting Bee. Although the couple moved around a lot because of Ron’s work, Grace has been back here for some years. Ron passed away in 1975.
A party to celebrate the birthday, held at the Helensville Bowling Club, drew 65 people from Melbourne and around NZ. Overseen by her only surviving son Ken, the catering and decorations were organised by family and friends, with a beautiful pink cake in the shape of a large teapot as the fitting centrepiece.
Grace, who really enjoyed all the fuss and attention, was thrilled with her cards from the Queen and the many other dignitaries who sent their congratulations.