By Mike Blake
Bryan and Veronica Anderson are members of the Tamahere Country Club’s “Magnificent Seven” – the earliest residents who stuck it out during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Recently a “you wouldn’t believe it” moment happened at the residents’ happy hour.
Bryan was chatting to Bill Edge, another, more recent arrival. After a short while Bill looked quizzically at Bryan and said: “I know you.”
“I don’t recognise your face but I know the voice.” It transpires that the two of them went through their apprenticeships together 60 years ago – in 1959 at Woburn Railway workshops in Lower Hutt.
A couple of weeks later Bill arrived at Friday drinks with a box of photographs showing the large team of about 30 aspiring apprentices.
“I started in 1957 so I was a couple of years ahead of Bryan,” he said.
Throughout the workshops we all had our groups,” he said. “But even though I spent most of my spare time with another group, every Friday Bryan would give me a lift home on his motorbike.
“To the top of Hill Street, up from Parliament Buildings. It went just about straight up but at the top was the Railway Hostel for young apprentices and that was home for me at the time.”
When just a lass, Veronica and her sister were keen to travel, both planning their big OE together.
And Bryan, who came into the picture much later, had a yearning for the sea as a boy.
Veronica was brought up in Bombala, a town in the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales and Bryan moved with his family to many towns throughout New Zealand following his dad whose career was with the railways.
Two years of O/E saw Veronica spend extended time in London, three months on the Continent and two months in the Middle East, finding herself on the border between the warring factions during the Six-Day War.
Meanwhile Bryan was at sea as second engineer on the Northern Star steaming up to Expo 70 in Japan.
In 1967 Veronica returned home to Sydney after two fantastic years of travel and worked at St Vincent’s Hospital.
Travel was in the blood and it wasn’t long before she signed up for a cruise to Hong Kong and Japan.
With a tavern and dance band on the ship where passengers and off-duty officers could mingle, it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to realise who she met there.
That was 48 years ago…and yes, it was Bryan.
When the cruise was over Bryan went to the UK to complete his engineering studies.
After lots of letter writing Veronica went to the UK where she and Bryan became engaged and later married.
As the wife of a senior officer she was able to travel on board. Back in Australia Bryan was promoted to chief engineer of the Ocean Monarch with the Shaw Saville Line.
The couple settled in windy Wellington as the spot to bring up their two children then retired to Waikanae Beach at Kapiti. Their son now lives in Scotland and daughter in Rototuna, Hamilton.
Now Bryan and Veronica have joined the growing team of people who have elected Tamahere Country Club as their retirement spot. It was a major move from Waikanae beach
But with a daughter and two grandkids living just a few kilometres away in Hamilton, it all made sense.
Bill Edge says he is a bit sorry he didn’t take his skills to sea like Bryan but he spent most of his working life as a maintenance fitter with the freezing works in Auckland.
“There were four operating in Otahuhu back then,” said Bill. “Now there is only one.
“If I’d been more of a go-getter, back in the day, I might have gone to sea but as it was I put many hard years into the freezing industry…had a heart bypass…then retired.
“And here I am at Tamahere Country Club with wife of 41 years, Heather.
“We have three children, William in London. The youngest, lawyer/accountant Vanessa who with her husband, also a lawyer, is about to settle on the Isle of Jersey.
“Samantha, a marketer for Fisher & Paykel and husband Blair bought our home in Auckland.
“Blair is a specialist builder creating louvre rooms as well as having a pool business as an extra.
Before Heather retired she was national sales manager for Elizabeth Arden.
Heather said she still holds a keen interest in the industry and has kept close ties with Elizabeth Arden.
What a coincidence…two guys, Bryan and Bill, who have gone about their lives in different areas of the engineering field, meet up, after nearly 60 years, as residents of Tamahere Country Club.
It shows what pulling power this wonderful retirement village in the Tamahere countryside near Hamilton in the Waikato has really achieved.
- Mike Blake is a retired newspaper editor who, with wife Eileen, has been living in Tamahere’s newest retirement village (aka construction site) from the beginning of the year. Their first impressions are here. Mike is finding many stories to tell in the interesting lives of those who steadily join the village.