They say age is just a number, and that's certainly the case with the Napier Lions' longest and most loyal member Byron Buchanan.

It's a double celebration as Buchanan celebrates his 96th birthday yesterday, as well as remaining the Napier Lions' oldest and most loyal member of the club for 57 years.

"The most enjoyable part of this for me is helping people, it's part of my lifestyle," he said.

Buchanan left school at 16 to begin work. He then joined the army went abroad, ending up in eastern Italy.


He eventually returned to New Zealand and started up a business in Napier in 1946.

Buchanan bought the Lodge Hotel in 1952 and managed it for 35 years. He then sold it and then bought the T & G building in 1986, redeveloping the upper floors.

"We developed that into offices as well as the restaurant and the conference centre and the dining area.

My wife and I retired after that in the year 2000, so I've had a busy life all together and I enjoyed every waking moment."

Despite retirement, Buchanan is known as one of the most active members of the Napier Lions, with plenty of experience under his belt.

"I have loved every minute of being a Lion. I started off in Hastings in 1961, and then they asked me to become president of the Taradale Club, that was two years later. Then I moved over to the Napier club and I've been there ever since.

"We just help the public out on a number of occasions and we make a bit of money here and there, then hand it out to various organisations that require our assistance."

Lions member Judie Stones said Byron's loyalty to the club was a call for celebration.


"He still goes to all the barbecues and most of the events and just loves to help out.

"He's just so much fun and he's always got something to say, always contributes and he's very active. We have trouble keeping up with him to be honest."

Buchanan is celebrating his 96th birthday at home, surrounded by friends and family and said he had no plans to retire from the Lions.

"I'm not going anywhere, I'm having far too much fun. We've got 35 members in the club at the moment and it's just great being part of such a good group of people," he said.