One of our very own has joined the Centenarians Club. According to the World Economic Forum, (with statistics from the United Nations and Statista), Renishaw Hills resident Fern Stievenart joins more than half a million members who are over 100!
Born in Belgium, Fern was 17 when WWII broke out. This did little to stop her from qualifying as a dressmaker, a skill she has used for many years. We sat down with her on this special occasion to find out more about her and what she’s learned from her 100 years of life.
Q: How did you meet your husband?
A: It was during my studies, at a Mardi Gras Carnival celebration. We waited until the War was over before we got married.
Q: What brought you to South Africa?
A: After the war, jobs were scarce, so courageously (with two kids in tow), my husband and I moved our family to Bukavu in the Belgian Congo. We ran a Material and Haberdashery business, importing fabrics from Belgium and France. When Independence was given in 1960, we literally packed all our belongings in a friend’s truck and drove to Natal, a trip that took 3 weeks. My husband loved fishing and we both loved the warm climate, so Natal became home.
Q: What’s the secret to a long, healthy life?
A: No smoking! I’m not a big drinker and only really enjoyed the occasional sherry or wine. I took no medication until the age of 95 and this was for blood pressure. Although I wasn’t really into sports, I did a lot of walking, and this kept me healthy.
Q: How would your family and friends describe you?
A: Probably as someone who is down to earth and someone who is best when sewing or around family.
Q: What is a fond childhood memory of yours?
A: My time spent travelling, enjoying the sea and sewing to create some wonderful garments.
Q: What was your biggest achievement?
A: Learning to speak English when I got to Durban at the age of 38.
Q: What has been the biggest invention in your lifetime?
A: Without a doubt, Television.
On behalf of the Renishaw Hills family, we’d like to wish Fern a happy birthday. For more on why our residents live happy, healthy and prosperous lives, arrange your private tour when you email email@example.com. Alternatively, take our home tours here.