On December 8, 1912, Nancy White was born in Geraldine, South Island.
This year, Nancy Francis celebrated her 107th birthday with friends and family at home at Virginia Lodge Rest Home in Great North Rd, Whanganui.
Nancy has been resident there since she was 104. Before that she was living a mostly independent life at her home in Moore Ave.

She doesn't go outside much these days, and the activity she misses most of all is her dancing.
"It's the only thing I could do better than anybody else."
The rowing clubs used to hold dances back in her day.
Nancy has passed on her love of dancing to her children. Her youngest son Ross was present when Midweek came to visit last week.

Nancy talked about her husband, Owen Francis, before they were married.
"He had a Norton motorbike and he played euphonium in the Garrison Band. He was second euphonium to Owen Williams who was New Zealand champion.
"It was the guts of the band, I used to say. It was a lovely instrument ... played the melody."

Nancy remembers some sort of regatta going on, and her pillion ride on two motorcycles.
"As I was going past Norman's Shop, which was next to the railway, Lionel Gilman was there, and he had an Enfield. He wanted to know if I'd go for a ride, you see. We went a little way, not far ... I must have met Owen before, because I went home with him. He took me out to Kai Iwi and did a fast run down the hill to try and frighten me – make me squawk, or something. But I didn't. I think I was a bit frightened, but I didn't let on."


Ross says his mum was an exceptionally good pillion passenger.
"With the Norton, the pillion seat and the saddle were joined together and you could sit right up close. I always had my hands in my pockets. You felt like you were part of the bike," Nancy says.
Ross remembers taking his mum on his BSA B31 when she did her father's laundry.
"She'd jump on the back with the clothes basket under one arm and the ironing under the other, and we'd go from Moore Ave to Tay St," he says. Her last ride with Ross was on his GSX1100 when Nancy was about 75. They included the Cemetery Circuit in the ride. Ross remembers his father taking them to the inaugural Cemetery Circuit race and, at a later date, taking him up the gasworks building for a spectacular view of the racing. That site is now occupied by Suzuki NZ.

While she played hockey at school, had a brief go at cricket and golf might have been Nancy's social passion later in life, dancing was very important throughout. She remembers going to the Wright sisters, dancing teachers, to learn a new style of waltz. They saw she was a natural dancer and asked her to come along as a dancing partner for some of the young men. She was about 17 at the time.
She learned the new waltz and, with a group from the dance school, gave an exhibition of the dance at a cabaret.

Owen and Nancy married at St Lawrence's Church in Aramoho when she was 21. It was Boxing Day.
"Everyone used to get married on long weekends and holidays, because you didn't get paid for holidays."
They lived in a rented house in Swiss Ave until they sold the motorbike and used the money to buy a section at 10 Moore Ave where they built their forever home. The Norton wasn't the last bike they owned. At one stage they had a Harley-Davidson with a sidecar.

"Owen worked at the gasworks. He was a meter repairer." They both became members of Castlecliff Golf Club where Nancy eventually became president.
Owen died at 95 and was playing golf until he was 90.

Nancy's later life hasn't been without its dramas. At 90 she broke a hip; at 101 she did it again; and more recently she broke her shoulder. You'd never know. As Ross put it: "You're a good mender, Mum."

She also has a quick sense of humour, undimmed by the years. When Marilyn Williamson, nurse manager, came in and asked if we were getting on all right, Nancy swiftly replied, "No, we're fighting."

For Nancy's birthday, Virginia Lodge put on a celebration.
"I invited two little ballerinas to dance for her," says Marilyn "And we had Ross Duncan come in and play the bagpipes."
Happy birthday Nancy. See you next year.