Celebrating a century

Organised by Esme Wright, president of the Women’s Institute, the party was a remarkably joyous occasion.
May, accompanied by her daughter Rosemarie van Olst – of Nottingham Road – had a smile for and a chat with all of her friends, and was particularly tickled by her lovely birthday cake.
Minister David Barbour paid tribute to May and her century’s worth of life, and great music was provided by a trio from Pietermaritzburg: Garth and Brian Whitehead and Bridget Beattie, the three singing rollicking favourites like Long Way to Tipperary and Roll out the Barrel, as well as two hymns.
May, born Cottrell, was a former gold medallist nurse at Addington Hospital, but was born and grew up on a gold mine on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
“It was a place called Modder East,” she told Village Talk.
“During the big mining strike in 1922, I remember us being hustled to a neighbour’s house and having to hide underneath a table!”
She and her late husband Noel (they married in 1940) farmed poultry in Benoni for many years, and she had four children, three daughters and a son.
“I moved down to Howick two years ago when my daughter Rosemarie retired to Nottingham Road,” she said. “I have always loved Natal, and was very happy to come here.” She loves living at the Ambers, she added, “and I love Village Talk.
I read it from cover to cover every week.”
An avid tennis player (she and her late husband collected numerous trophies over the years), she’s also always been a keen knitter and reader. “She’s knitted hundreds of jerseys and scarves over the years,” said Rosemarie, “having the four children, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren!” She was also, for many years, president of the Women’s Auxiliary in Benoni.
She insisted on standing up to thank everyone for attending her birthday tea, and a rousing Happy Birthday was sung by everyone present.Many happy returns from everyone at Village Talk, May. You are a very special lady!

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