If Mavis isn’t lawn bowling, swimming, taking voice lessons, or participating in a Steady As You Go exercise class, she’s probably home baking the most delicious scones you’ve ever tasted. Or perhaps she’s sewing or knitting a useful gift for a friend. Despite Mavis being nearly 84 years old, she keeps more active than most.
Mavis is a people connector in her community. She has a gift for finding opportunities to link people together. When she read about a falls prevention exercise class in a local newsletter, she invited a partially-blind friend along and the two became regular class attendees. Mavis eventually led the class, and through word-of-mouth, contributed to making the class thrive.
“We lookout for each other,” Mavis says about the exercise group. “Maybe it comes from years of coaching bowls, but it just seems normal to make sure the others are alright.”
Her garden is carefully manicured, and her sunny home smells of fresh baking and strawberries. She gives a motherly comforting hug when you come through her door. She grew up in Wellington and has lived in her community for most of her life. Her father started the local volunteer fire brigade with some friends after they saw the need for it during a major house fire at a Linden home belonging to Whittaker’s great chocolate makers. Her family has deep roots in Tawa.
When Mavis and her husband had their house built several decades ago, there was a frog pond next door. A school was to be built there, but plans changed and the space is now a park. Mavis has been widowed for a few years but still loves living in her home.
Mavis is probably most famous in her Linden community for her impressive flag collection. For her 60th birthday, Mavis asked her family for a flagpole. She can’t remember what gave her the idea, but she now has 75 flags in her collection and each has a story. She hasn’t bought many of them though – most are gifts that friends buy on their travels. One man from Island Bay heard about Mavis’ flag collection and donated his own collection when he downsized his home. When Roger Federer retired recently, she flew the Swiss flag. This week, as one of her guests is English, she flew St George’s flag. People sometimes stop and take photos of her flags, often happy to see a flag that has a special meaning to them.
Mavis is a trusted friend to many. She feels lucky when she meets people, lucky to have new people in her heart. Her advice to others is to try to keep strong and healthy. She wishes we would hear more about the good families rather than hearing so much about problems. “I just wish everybody would love each other, that’s all. Somehow, we need to be happy in our lives – it’s sad when people can’t be happy.”
Covid has been difficult for Mavis, particularly because she chose not to be vaccinated, meaning she was excluded from some of her usual activities. “I’m not upset about the mandates, I just accept what happened and keep positive,” she says. Despite having to cut back her activities, she agreed to lead Age Concern Wellington Region’s weekly live online exercise class when needed, and even be filmed for Age Concern’s new Steady As You Go DVD. In many ways, Age Concern has become an important part of Mavis’ life. Age Concern’s exercise classes and the monthly community hubs for seniors help give a rhythm to Mavis’ life, and of course she uses these opportunities to invite others who would benefit from the services as well.
Age Concern Wellington Region is thankful for Mavis’ contribution to our programmes, and we’re proud to call her our friend.
~ Lorna Harvey, Communications Coordinator