Laurie’s story – “just breathe”.

By Jocelyn Bray - 12 June 2023

Laurie’s story – “just breathe”.

HBH apartment resident, Laurie Hamlet, celebrates his 100th birthday this month. Birthday celebrations are always special here at HBH, and reaching a century is certainly a momentous occasion.

Laurie’s life has been as fascinating as it is long. In 1923, John Laurence Ernest was born in Epsom, Auckland to an Irish mother and English father, and was the first of five siblings. Schooling was difficult during the years of the Great Depression and the family moved many times. Laurie attended Sacred Heart in his latter years of schooling, finally leaving in 1938, aged 15 years.

His father went into an automotive business, and to make ends meet worked as a labourer at the new Whenuapai Airport. Laurie took on an auto electrician apprenticeship, then volunteered for the RNZ Airforce, serving six years. The family moved to Devonport for a time and then on to Orakei.

Laurie married in 1949 and settled in Howick in 1955. He had a career as an engineer and worked at Air New Zealand for over 20 years. He has also had a long-standing association with the Warbirds Association, of which he is an honorary member. Not only that, he is a keen sailor and a member of the Vintage Car Club, so he has certainly kept himself busy over the years.

Laurie moved to HBH Howick Views around seven years ago after his wife passed away in 2015. He says he chose it for the central location and because he didn’t want to live in one of the bigger villages. He also knew someone living here, who had highly recommended it.

He has three children who live in various parts of the North Island and he has just renewed his driver’s license so he can keep in touch and see them often.

Celebrating in style

Two weeks’ worth of centenary celebrations have started, including morning teas with the many different groups Laurie is involved with, including the Air New Zealand Retirees Group.

Family has always been an important part of his life and he enjoyed celebrating with his family over the weekend. He says he has received cards from the King, the Governor General and our Prime Minister.

Laurie says that he comes from a line of ancestors who’ve lived long, healthy lives – most of whom have lived well into their nineties. His secret? “Breathing,” he says. “I’m no cook, so it can’t be that. Just breathe.”

Congratulations Laurie on being a shining example of ageing well and living fully … and happy birthday from all of us!

Jocelyn Bray