By SHELLEY TOPP
Amberley’s newest centenarian, Olive Salter, loves new adventures.
Last week Olive, who was born in England, was in her element enjoying a day of birthday surprises put on by the Amberley Rest Home and Retirement Studios where she lives.
Her day included a chaffeur-driven ride in a 1956 Bentley S to Amberley School with her daughter Myra Salter.
At the school Olive was crowned queen for the day with a crown made for her by the children, who lined up behind the school’s front fence waving Union Jack flags they had made to celebrate her special birthday.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” she said.
Afterwards, a high tea party was held for Olive at the rest-home and she was presented with a large bunch of flowers from the home’s owner Tracey Dimmock-Rump who told Olive it was “an honour and a privilege to have you here as part of our family”.
Olive came to live in New Zealand 10 years ago after her husband died.
She had an early start to school life at age three and a half , because she wanted to start at the same time as her older brother.
After her schooling Olive’s first job was as a nanny to two young boys when she was only 16.
Now she has three children, seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren of her own.
“She was still a nanny when she met my Dad, and after they got married she was in the civil defence, during the (Second World) war,” Myra said.
“She had many jobs, including being a lollipop lady teaching children road safety.”
She was also governor for the local school and became the first woman chair for the parish council in 1966.
“Mum was also a care worker for the elderly in a rest-home and in their own homes for several years,” Myra said.
Olive enjoys walking and keeping her mind busy. She loves knitting and learnt the craft when she was 10.
“I knitted for customers and now I knit for charity,” she said.
She doesn’t smoke and enjoys a wee tipple of Baileys Irish Cream occasionally.
Olive loves playing cards and scrabble, takes a keen interest in politics and enjoyed a tour of the Beehive during a trip to Wellington when she also visited Te Papa.
Since coming to New Zealand to live Olive has been busy taking in the sights.
She celebrated her 90th birthday at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and has also done a scenic flight over Christchurch and Akaroa, and taken a hot air balloon flight over North Canterbury.
Olive enjoys travelling by train and has done the Rangiora to Picton journey on the Coastal Pacific, and also the Christchurch to Greymouth trip on the Tranz Alpine Express.
She visited Cape Reinga and Waitangi for the 2016 Waitangi Day celebrations.
That year she also saw Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sing live in concert and her son John, who lives in Washington DC, gave Olive her first electronic tablet and taught her to email and how to Skype.
John was not able to come to New Zealand for Olive’s 100th birthday because of Covid 19 travel restrictions.
However, Olive travelled to the United States to see him when she was 93.
“I travelled on my own to America for Christmas and spent six weeks there. We had a lovely time,” she said.