Hawke’s Bay’s newest centenarian, Beatrice Heays, was surrounded by cards and people as she celebrated her 100th birthday at Gracelands Aged Care Centre, Hastings, today.
Born Beatrice Johnston at Tambo, North Queensland, on May 4, 1896, she first came to New Zealand as a four-year-old and crossed the Tasman several times during her school years.
In 1917, she married childhood sweetheart Robert Heays, who, wounded at Gallipoli, drew a ballot for a block of land in the Tutira district which they developed at Te Rangi.
“We spent the first four years in a pup tent,” she said as family and other gathered around yesterday.
Her husband died in 1956 and with a new home built for her on the property, Mrs Heays set about establishing a garden of new flower beds surrounded by rhododendron, azalea, camellia and magnolia plants blending with the native bush just inches away.
Mrs Heays left the property in 1990 and has been at Gracelands for six years. She has survived three of her five sons. Youngest son Murray continues to farm Te Rangi and Mrs Heays also has a daughter in Hawke’s Bay.
She has 21 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
Photo caption – MRS HEAYS celebrating her birthday.