No royal smile for milestone

21:06, Feb 13 2013
Fay Sharp, 100, was thrilled to receive a card from the Queen on her birthday.
Fay Sharp, 100, was thrilled to receive a card from the Queen on her birthday.

WEEKS after turning a hundred years old, Fay Sharp still has a wicked sense of humour.

Picking up her congratulatory card from the Queen - which she has carefully wrapped in plastic - she grins.

"It's lovely but I sure wish she would have smiled."

Mrs Sharp is particularly fond of Queen Elizabeth and the royal family, having grown up in London.

"I'm English to the core. Although I'm glad I came to New Zealand," she said.

"New Zealanders are very nice . . . but don't tell them that."

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Fay celebrated her 100th birthday on December 30 with a surprise party in Tauranga thrown by her son Barry and his wife Leola.

"I had the most gorgeous time," she said.

Her other two children Stuart and Avril, who live in Australia, were there, along with the majority of her 11 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.

"All the people who were there I remember as little kids when they used to come and see me. Now they're all grown up with families of their own. It was fantastic."

Fay was born in London in 1912 and it was there she later met a young man named Len Sharp at a dance hall.

The pair soon became friends and decided to take dance lessons together, learning modern styles such as the tango, the foxtrot, the rhumba and the pasa doble.

"I always loved dancing," Fay said. ". . . the frocks, the music, everything."

They began to enter local competitions and in 1937 won the amateur title at the World Ballroom Championships in Paris.

The following year they married on July 23 and their daughter was two months old when World War II broke out.

With the threat of German air raids over London, the young family were evacuated to Devon.

"We knew there was bombing. It was very, very bad," Fay said.

"I was in a state of nerves, so was everybody come to that.

"I hope we never go through that again.

"I think the English sense of humour got us through the war.

"We got over it, we always do."

In 1955, the couple, now with three children, decided to migrate and Len's mother suggested New Zealand.

"I said, 'where's that?' If someone had dared ask me to show them on the map I wouldn't have known where to look," said Fay.

"I don't think any of us knew where it was."

On arrival, the family was transported to Matamata and Len, who was a builder by trade, took on work in Rotorua and later Tokoroa.

He built a family home in Matamata, which Fay lived in until she moved to Country Lodge in recent years.

With her talent in performing arts, Fay was involved in the Matamata Dramatic Society for many years, earning a lifetime achievement award in 2009.

"I'm very glad that we came to Matamata," she said.

"I've been lucky I suppose, I haven't had tragic things happen, it's just been a nice, ordinary life."

Matamata Chronicle