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100-years-old and full of energy

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014
Molly Brown
Karina Abadia
ROYAL DELIVERY: Molly Brown of Glendowie is thrilled to have received a card from Queen Elizabeth on her 100th birthday.
Molly Brown
NATURAL POISE: Molly Brown demonstrates her ice skating skills at the opening of Zurich’s Dolder Sports open air ice rink in 1930.

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The secret to a long life is lots of exercise and a banana a day.

"My grandson's a triathlete and he has a banana every day," Molly Brown says.

The Glendowie resident might be on to something. She turned 100 last week and is still full of energy.

She was very pleased to receive a card from the Queen.

"I admire her immensely," the royalist says. "The way she works at her age, it's incredible."

Molly Sweet was born in Perth, Western Australia, on May 29, 1914, but the family soon moved to Wanganui and then Akaroa where her father worked as a school teacher.

She was 2 when her father died of a heart attack and she and her mother set sail for London to be near her family.

Little Molly spent her early life in Somerset but was often poorly so doctors recommended she and her mother move to Switzerland.

They spent almost 10 happy years there and she attended an English speaking school in Montreux, at the foot of the French Alps.

"I'm never homesick for England but I am for Switzerland. The people and the lifestyle were lovely. I also learned to ice skate there."

During the Great Depression she and her mother moved again to Streatham in South London where she continued her ice-skating lessons. Earning a silver medal in a London-based competition bolstered her confidence and she began to see herself as a professional ice skater.

She took a job as an ice skating instructor in Birmingham.

"It was very hard work, lugging beginners around the rink but I thoroughly enjoyed it."

Over the years she worked with many of Europe's top skaters.

When World War II began she and her mother moved again, to Twickenham.

During the Battle of Britain a bomb landed on the town hall opposite their home. Luckily it turned out to be a dud.

"I remember it very well. It was so terrifying but I got used to that sort of thing I suppose," she says.

During the war she bought a petrol station with a friend and worked as a driver for the British Civil Defence and then later the Royal Air Force. She used to guide the bombers off the airport runway to a parking bay in her little Morris Minor with red and green flashing lights.

That's how she met her husband Ferdie Brown who was in the air force. He took her on a few dates and she knew he was the one.

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"He was a very nice, very caring sort of a guy. Everybody said he looked just like Clark Gable."

After the war the couple moved to Timaru where they brought up their children Jose and Peter. The Browns shifted to Pakuranga in the early 1980s and nine years ago Mrs Brown moved to St Andrew's Village.

The eastern bays is the best part of Auckland, she says.

"It has lovely homes, a lot of trees and the view of the gulf along Tamaki Drive is just gorgeous."

A LIFE WELL LIVED

■ Born in Australia, moved to New Zealand and then to England at 2 after her father's death

■ Became a professional ice skater, skating with many top names in Europe

■ Bought a petrol station during WWII

■ Guided the bombers off the airport runway to a parking bay in her little Morris Minor with red and green flashing lights 

- East And Bays Courier

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