Olive Philpott's mother, the late Lucetta Hobson, always said ''don't always be receiving, give.''

And they are words Olive still remembers and tries to live by today.

So it's no surprise that at 93 years old she is crocheting rugs for people in hospital, helping with Meals on Wheels deliveries, doing flower arrangements and wreath-making.

''It's sad, if you're not active.

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''If you don't put anything into it, you'll never get anything out of it,'' she says.

She has also been a volunteer Ashburton Hospital visitor to patients, most of them from out of town, and has just celebrated 50 years with Mid Canterbury's Lowcliffe Women's Institute (WI), which she joined in her mid-30s.

Although the early days were spent with her young children Susan and Alastair, she worked her way through the organisation.

She was president at the time of the Lowcliffe WI jubilee.

''I was as nervous as hell. I'm one for being down the back.''

Her daughter Susan also joined the Lowcliffe WI then.

Olive has made good friends through the WI, meeting people from around the district.

Although Lowcliffe WI has fewer members, possibly due to more transient farm workers in the district, its members still meet regularly.

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It is not the only Mid Canterbury WI branch to lose members. The WI strength in Mid Canterbury historically sat at 22 but had dwindled to eight, she said.

She likes the organisation's international reach, with a ''sister relationship or component worldwide'', travelling extensively when she was younger.

It was the late 1950s when Olive and a couple of friends boarded a ship headed to the United Kingdom.

She got work at Selfridges; it was a great job to have as an income source and meant she could still travel.

She and three friends travelled often, at times sleeping in tents as they visited places like Sweden, Norway, Berlin and other parts of Germany.

It was a long way from where Olive spent her youth - Clandeboye, South Canterbury.

Her parents, Tom and Lucetta, ran a mixed farm property on leased land.

They had emigrated from Ireland to the district, where Tom had two sisters, one in Temuka, the other at Orari.

The middle child of three - younger brother, George, lives at Rakaia - Olive was schooled at Clandeboye Primary before heading to the former Temuka High School, now called Opihi College.

In the early days, Olive biked to school before a bus route was established; it was 8.8km one way.

Her work career was varied; she was employed at the Clandeboye store, helped out at the dairy factory and drove the school bus when needed.

But then when her parents bought a sheep and crop farm at Winchmore (nearer to Lyndhurst), Olive moved with them and got involved with bible studies and youth work.

The unexpected death of her father brought a move to town.

By the early 1950s, Olive was working at the Tekau factory, in Ashburton.

She also worked at the Somerset Hotel, run by the late Dorothy and Len Brown. Mrs Brown later remarried and became Dorothy Moon.

Her mother was one of 10 siblings (most were still in Ireland) and her father had the two sisters now in New Zealand.

''The eldest of every family left home, 'cause there was no work for them.''

Olive was the first generation from New Zealand to travel and meet family in Ireland and jokes ''it was like I was the Queen''.

She was warmly welcomed, even by extended family - the aunties and uncles of her parents.

She still keeps in contact with some of the people she met while travelling, who were ''great friends''.

Others have since died, such as the American couple she met while based in the UK and visited in America on her way home.

While overseas, Olive bought a car, which eventually made the trip back to New Zealand.

She flew home via America and travelled Australia with a friend in a van.

She met her future husband, the late Doug Philpott, back in New Zealand when he was best man at the wedding of one of her travelling companions, the late Evelyn Banks, to Gilbert Donaldson.

Doug, who died in 2014, was a sheep and crop farmer at Lowcliffe.

Olive and Doug married in 1964 and, the rest, as they say is history.