When Jessie Seaman returned home to Raetihi last week and saw the pristine condition of her home, her mown lawns and her flourishing gardens she sat down and sobbed.

Ms Seaman had fallen three months before, fracturing vertebrae in her neck which left her first in Whanganui Hospital then in a rest home on St Johns Hill for three months.

While she was away, the "whole of Raetihi" came to the rescue of her home and gardens, she said.

"Everyone was marvellous. The whole town of Raetihi has helped me. And a lot of people in Ohakune were helping as well.

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"They have all been so good to me it makes me howl when I think about it you know. People have been so good."

Friend Billie Ratima said everyone got together to allocate jobs after Ms Seaman was so badly injured and hospitalised.

"We were all in and out of Jessie's every day."

Someone looked after the tomatoes in the tomato house, several people formed a gardening group and kept her large gardens weeded and watered.

The extensive garden which neighbours and friends have kept up.
The extensive garden which neighbours and friends have kept up.

One man now living in Whanganui came through to check on her vegetable garden and weed it.

Another team of volunteers kept the lawns mowed, the house clean, vacuumed and polished.

One man made his sole duty to use his leaf blower to rid the driveway of leaves every second day.

Neighbours across the street kept an eye on Jessie's house with one man moving his armchair and television across by his ranch slider door to have a constant and uninterrupted view.

Jessie Seaman is a feisty 93-year-old who has lived in Raetihi for nearly 76 years.

She has always been a "fiercely loyal stalwart of this community and all its people", said Ms Ratima.

"She turns up at every community event with plates of home-cooked food for everyone. She never misses church fairs, market days, all local fundraising events. She comes along with homemade pots of jam, jars of preserves and fresh vegetables from her garden.

"She's fantastic."

And every Saturday during the rugby season for 40 years, Ms Seaman has arrived at schoolboy games with plates laden with sandwiches for the lads.

"Well, I would give my heart and soul for all those kids," she said.

She's hoping her neck collar can come off at the end of the month. "I am tired of it. Really very sick of it."

Three loads of carefully chopped wood (rata and maire) have been stacked in her wood shed by a local father and son.

"They must have done it the other day. How lovely of them."

Billie Ratima said the mainstay of Ms Seaman's home is her old wood-burning range in the kitchen which keeps her cosy and snug.

"Everyone knows, so the gift of wood is so perfect."

Tears come to Ms Seaman's eyes when she looks at her beloved conservatory because her precious collection of mostly geraniums are in tip-top shape.

"I love these flowers."

Even the neighbourhood dogs know she's home.

"I can't go walking yet so they have to come and see me to get their chicken soup and a few bones."

The former Waimarino Hospital radiographer came to New Zealand in 1940 as a 14-year-old war refugee with her mum and her sister from Dalmatia (now Croatia).

She was a part of a large group of children evacuated during World War II. She worked first at the Waimarino Hospital as a nurse aide before going on to train as a nurse then a radiographer.

Ten years ago, Jessie Seaman was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for community services in the Waimarino. She was very embarrassed, she said.

"I love this community they have always helped me and I love to help everyone."

Next door are the pensioner flats where the "old folks" are, she said in a recent earlier story in Wanganui Chronicle.

"I think it might be a while before I can drive them anywhere. But I'm home now and it's beautiful. Everyone has been wonderful and I will never forget all this kindness."

Billie Ratima laughed.

"She was only home two days and made chicken soup and scones ... she just can't help it.
We all love her. Jessie is our wonderful friend."