Joyce celebrates being 100 years young

Joyce Young with her son, Robbie Young, and daughter, Dr Rosemary Exner.

Joyce Young (née Collins) turned 100 on Sunday November 11 and celebrated her milestone with a high tea surrounded by her family and friends at The Rathfelder and again on Monday November 12 with residents and staff at the retirement village in Diep River.

Joyce was born in Canterbury, Kent, in England, on Armistice Day, and came to South Africa as a 4-year-old to be brought up by her father’s sister after her biological mother died.

She was raised in Fish Hoek and met the love of her life, Bill Young. And after the war, in 1948, they moved into one of the 13 new houses built for ex-servicemen in Bergvliet.

They were the fifth couple to establish themselves on what was previously the Bergvliet Farmstead, originally part of the Constantia Farm, owned by Simon van der Stel.

She remembers the bond repayment was fixed at the equivalent of R13 a month and the Catholic Church was already there in Bergvliet Road.

Meadowridge was just Port Jackson bushes and a forest of huge pine trees.

With the best natural playground on their doorstep, her two children, Dr Rosemary Exner and Robert Young, played in the nearby streams, catching tadpoles and building hideaways in the trees.

There were no supermarkets in those days and she used to buy her produce from a store on the Main Road helped by their Great Dane, Lord Nelson, who used to walk back to their house at 43 Bergvliet Road holding the paper bags in his jaws.

Fresh meat arrived on the train at Heathfield station once a week, and Lord Nelson would proudly carry that basket too.

A loud kelp horn announced the arrival of the fresh-fish cart every Thursday morning and milk was delivered in glass bottles (topped with one third cream) via the local milk cart. Vegetables and fruit followed in similar fashion.

Joyce and Bill lived in Bergvliet for over 50 years and their house was easily recognised as Bill built a scaled replica of Canterbury Cathedral that became their postbox.

They moved to The Rathfelder in 2000, where many Bergvliet neighbours became Rathfelder neighbours.

Joyce’s motto in life has been, “hard work didn’t kill anyone”.

She was a stay-at-home mom who did all the housework, babysat for the very busy local doctor and was secretary to the South African Institute for Draftsmen.

Saturdays were spent gardening or watching school sport. She was a good tennis and netball
player in her day and encouraged the sporting activities of her children and always won the mothers’ race on sports day at Bergvliet Primary.

Joyce is a very committed Christian and the Medway Community Church in Plumstead began in her lounge.

She is the oldest resident at
The Rathfelder and also their “grande dame” who is always pleased to see residents and friends who pop in to chat.

Joyce has always been an avid cricket follower. At the family party, one of her grandsons gave her a miniature cricket bat for getting through the “nervous nineties” and reaching her ton.