Hilda's still teaching at 100

STILL TEACHING: Hilda Griffin turns 100 on Sunday. She still teaches Bible studies at her home.
STILL TEACHING: Hilda Griffin turns 100 on Sunday. She still teaches Bible studies at her home.

Hilda Griffin will mark her 100th birthday by doing the same thing she's done almost every Sunday since 1948 – heading down the road to church.

She says it's fortunate her birthday falls on a Sunday and she can celebrate it with her friends at the Westgate Baptist Church, where she has done flower arrangements and hosted Bible studies for more than five decades.

Mrs Griffin will be celebrating with past and present Bible school students, friends and family.

Born in Ramarama in 1911 as Hilda Constance Allen, she was the only one of her nine siblings to be born at a hospital.

She has outlived her brothers and sisters but she wasn't the first one of them to make it to triple digits. Her elder sister Grace Whittaker also made it to 100.

Mrs Griffin grew up on a farm. Her father was a bootmaker and her mother was a housewife.

She and her siblings went to Pukekohe High School. "It was something that was very important to my parents and I passed with good marks."

From there she joined her sister working as a nurse in a resthome. It was the start of a satisfying career that would see Mrs Griffin travel around New Zealand.

She says her time spent in the Northland settlement of Te Hapua was especially memorable.

"While working for the district health board in Kaikohe I had two horses which I rode to work called Radar and Jimmy. Radar was a wild horse and she was a big bony thing that would not canter.

"One day she went off and returned to the wild."

In her mid-30s she returned to Auckland where she met her future husband Cyril Griffin.

"He was my good friend's brother and we met when he gave us a ride into town from Henderson."

Eventually they began writing to each other.

"The post office knew something was up between us."

The couple married in 1947 at the Ramarama Church and moved to the Hobsonville house where she lives today.

"It was all farmland when we moved here and my husband's section was 180 acres."

A street and park were named after the pair – Hobsonville's Cyril Cres and Hilda Griffin Reserve.

From their Hobsonville home the couple started teaching Bible studies in 1948. It was the only Bible school between Hobsonville and Kumeu and Mrs Griffin still hosts a weekly class from home.

They had the first of their three daughters, Mary, in 1948 followed by Grace in 1950 and Ruth in 1954. Mr Griffin died in 1998.

Mrs Griffin says the secret to a long life is taking care of yourself.

"I was brought up with parents who insisted on good food, exercise, and good rest."

People who know Mrs Griffin are welcome to come along to Westgate Baptist Church this Sunday for the 10am service, followed by a lunch. Call the church on 416-6787.

Western Leader