Eric leaves Blighty for good at 102

Doris and Eric King-Turner are generally no different from any immigrants making a fresh start in a new country.

They're busy deciding what to pack and what to leave behind in Britain and are making plans to extend their new home in Nelson.

Doris is looking forward to getting the garden into shape and Eric has his heart set on a spot of fly fishing.

The difference is Eric is 102. Doris is 87. Eric reckons he's Britain's oldest emigrant.

In January next year Eric King-Turner and his wife of 12 years will wave goodbye to their neighbours in the village of Titchfield, Hampshire, and set sail from Southampton on the voyage of a lifetime.

The ocean liner Saga Rose will take six weeks to get to Auckland and the couple are expecting a red-carpet welcome from family. Doris was born in New Zealand but gave up her homeland when the couple, both widowed, met and married in the 90s.

But New Zealand is close to both their hearts and the lure of family and friends, and the good fishing, persuaded them to emigrate.

Doris, who has five children and nine grandchildren, sponsored her husband's application to settle in New Zealand. The paperwork took five months.

Says Eric: "We not only had to produce a marriage certificate but we had to produce evidence that we were in a long and stable relationship!"

Eric says he was not asked about his age but had to show that he could support himself financially in New Zealand. An Englishman through and through, he is looking forward to the move.

"I like New Zealand. The way of life is very much the same as it is here but it is not so crowded."

The sprightly centenarian, who was Surgeon Commander (dentistry) in the Royal Navy, describes New Zealand as "the most wonderful place in the world for fishing".

His wife has always been "a little bit homesick" but has never complained.

Now the couple are in the middle of the daunting task of sorting out possessions and selling their flat.

They will set up home in Doris' bungalow by the beach in Nelson and plan to extend the house and tackle the huge garden.

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