Friday, April 28, 2006

It is 150 years since the Pitcairners first came to Norfolk Island, and our beloved Ruby Matthews has lived through 100 of those years!

It was a very special day for Norfolk Island today. Not only is it the 217th anniversary of The Mutiny on the Bounty...where it all began.... but Ruby Florence Selwyn Matthews reached her century, and celebrated in grand style.
This morning at 10 o' clock, many of the community gathered in a little area off Rooty Hill Road, where a small park has been created to honour Ruby and this very special occasion.
There were speeches and gifts, and a special scroll signed by everyone present.
Ruby herself made a speech, and what warm words of wisdom she shared with us all. She said that her family had told her not to worry about what she would say - the words and thoughts would come, and they certainly did. Ruby said she did not know if she would be around 'for the next one' - but before we could reassure her that we would all be there for her 101st, she said she meant the next 100 years!
With the help of her 3 sons, Ruby planted a camellia bush, which is her favourite flower. She said her sons were all very handy. "And handsome" we said, and I think you will agree.

Don and Susan both entertained us with Norfolk songs. Susan sang "Dar Bounty Mutiny" which was most appropriate, and then Don entertained us with "Down a' Town" - also very fitting because "Town" (Kingston) was where Ruby lived as a child. The spot for Ruby's park was specially chosen because it overlooks the area.

After this, we all joined in a rousing HAPPY BIRTHDAY with a second verse!

Later Ruby had a special birthday lunch at Branka House with family and friends. I believe about 30 people came to the island specially to help Ruby celebrate the occasion.

Ruby actually left the island at the age of nineteen, "coming home to roost", as she put it, in recent years, to live in a little flat at the home of son John and his wife Jan. She spent much of her life living at Watson's Bay in Sydney. When she sold her home there, the buyer was so enchanted with this delightful lady that he named the new house he built on the site "RUBY" after her.

In a couple of the photos, Ruby is wearing one of her gifts from the community - a special hat plaited from Moo-oo (flax). The little girl watching on is her great-granddaughter, also called Ruby.

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