Special Celebrations with a Covid Twist
Most people live their entire lives without receiving a letter from the Queen – but Hillsborough Heights Village resident Velma Luxmoore is not ‘most people’.
The vibrant centenarian has not one, but two letters from the monarch – one in recognition of her 60th wedding anniversary, and just last month a second in commemoration of her 100th birthday.
I’ve carefully packed the latest letter away along with well wishes from the Prime Minister, the Governor General and numerous friends and family. I look forward to showing them to my daughters when they’re eventually able to come and visit me,” says Velma, one of 26 current Metlifecare residents to have reached this all-important milestone.
Covid-19 prevented Velma’s family – who all live overseas – from attending her birthday bash, but thanks to technology and the efforts of village staff, they were still able to have a slice of the action.
Says Village Manager Penny Smith, “We managed to put on a wonderful celebration for Velma despite the pandemic. I suggested connecting with her daughters Helen and Jolene in Australia via Zoom, and it snowballed into something much bigger, with extended family, including numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren from America also joining in.”
Penny worked with family to put together a scrolling slideshow of Velma’s life, a sumptuous high tea (including bubbles and birthday cake), and a residents’ get together at the Village bar for more toasts, speeches and jokes. A surprise gift basket presentation from the Residents’ Association and spectacular floral displays of Velma’s favourite apple blossoms and roses were the icing on the cake.
“It really was extraordinary; I felt quite overcome by it all,” says Velma. “I’ve lived at Hillsborough Heights Village for 32 years so there were plenty of friends to celebrate with, but I haven’t got any family here. To see them all on the screen was just wonderful. When you are 100 you don’t expect things like that!”
And for Velma’s family it was the next best thing to being there.
Says daughter Helen, “It was an emotional experience watching mum enjoying her party with her special friends and staff, who she tells us are also her family. We loved watching her give her speech and everyone having a happy time. All we wanted for her on her birthday was to be happy.”
What’s more, Zoom dished up some unexpected benefits.
“The cousins got to see each other for the first time in over 30 years and they met each other’s children for the first time ever. We’re now intending to do this more often in future,” adds Helen.
There’s no doubt that the first week of August was a busy and festive one at Hillsborough Heights Village. Just a day after Velma’s birthday, residents Lloyd and Marie Connolly celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
As well cards from the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Governor General, the couple enjoyed a trip down memory lane with a family lunch at Devonport’s Esplanade Hotel, where they’d had their honeymoon.
Says son Neil, “Dad said he would take mum ‘overseas’ and he did!”
It just goes to show that even in the midst of a global pandemic, Metlifecare staff and residents are still finding plenty of ways to celebrate.