There's no place like home says Genevieve Hopkins, especially when home is in Stratford.
Genevieve, who turned 99 last week, has spent all but two years of her life in Stratford and Eltham, and says she wouldn't have it any other way.

"Stratford has always been home to me.

"I've never seen any reason to move away."

Genevieve says she spent her childhood at the family home on Flint Road from where she walked to primary school each day.

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"The school was where the Mitre 10 building is now, so it was a bit of a walk. I liked school though. When I went to high school I biked there every day."

Genevieve (nee Bilkey) was the second girl in the family and also had an older brother.
"I was the youngest child."

On leaving school Genevieve trained to be a nurse, completing all but two years of her training in Stratford.

"We had to go to Whanganui for two years of the course, but I was happy to come home afterwards. I never saw the appeal of living in a bigger city or further away."

She worked and lived at the Stratford hospital until she got married in 1948.

She met her husband Frank at a wedding.

"His sister was a nurse with me and she told me about her brother Frank.

"Then when she got married I was her bridesmaid and so met Frank that day."

When she was introduced to him, she says she remembers telling him she had heard lots about him already.

"After the wedding we went for a drive and that's when we decided to start going together."

Within a year they had got married at the Methodist church in Stratford, and Frank moved from Auckland to live in Taranaki in a cottage they built in Eltham.

The couple had three children together, and Genevieve left nursing for a while to raise them.

Sadly, after 18 years of marriage, Frank died leaving Genevieve a single parent.

"When he got sick, I went back to work at the Stratford hospital and carried on working there again until I retired in 1980."

At no point, she says, did she consider moving away from the area.

"Stratford has always felt like home, the people are nice and I like it here."

Genevieve, who has nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren now lives at the village at Maryann Home and Hospital, which she says is a lovely place to be.

Asked what the secret to living a long and healthy life is, Genevieve says it is down to attitude.

"You just keep on going and don't give up."