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profiles helen gowlandHelen Gowland

I grew up on a farm in Rangiora, Nth Canterbury, 2nd eldest in a family of 6, (3 girls and 3 boys). Dad managed the farm which had 120 acres of flax, plus about 20 acres for our own stock. The flax Dad cut was sent to be turned into twine and rope. We kept milking cows for our own use, and sent the cream to the dairy factory and used the spare milk for the pigs.

We also had 25 steer, one of which I tried to ride, but was thrown over a fence within minutes. Farm life was good. We were fit and healthy and always on the go. Before school, (I was only 7+ and Dad had to be at the factory at 6am) I had to finish separating the milk, then put the separator parts in hot water to soak, ready to wash later. Then, with the dog’s help, I’d take the cows out to pasture. After school, I‘d bring them back, ready for Dad. I far preferred this sort of work to being stuck inside doing dishes etc.

We went to Southbrook Primary School, a small school with 3 classrooms, then from there to Rangiora High School....a real culture shock to us kids. I was not a great student, but read avidly and always got high marks in English. I was placed in the Home Science Course, (Cooking, Sewing and Childcare.) and was totally bored. I excelled in sport. Loved athletics. I was also in the softball and netball teams.

I left school after 5th form. It was deemed more important to find a husband and have kids than to have a career. The cost of sitting school cert was hard on the budget and jobs were easy to come by, so leaving school was the best thing. I worked for a year at Deans factory, jeans manufacturers, in Rangiora. At age 16, I holidayed in Nelson, with my Aunty, and found a job and a place to board and convinced my Mum: "It would be a good move for me." I loved life in Nelson. I worked at the Toll Exchange and really enjoyed it, even Richmond was a toll call back then. I also became a Cub Leader with the Anzac Scout Group. Their hall was the first in the complex where the Seniornet Hall is - the front hall with the mural . I married Trevor and we had 3 children in 3 years. As the kids grew, so did their love of sports. We all joined harriers. We belonged to the Trafalgar Club which was then held in a tin shed on the road edge by the Scout Den. We raised money and the hall we built is the hall adjoining SeniorNet. So I feel I have done the full circle.

I became a solo Mum when my marriage failed. I worked at a number of jobs after the kids started school. I worked school hours through the day and the kids helped with cleaning jobs at night. We survived with humour and doing things together. My last job was at an engineering firm—welding, press work, lathe work etc. A greasy and grimy job. I met Stu there and we have been partners now for over 30 years. Stu is Scottish and we visited his country a couple of times. I love it there. Stu and I have 10 grandchildren, aged from 12 to 27 - love them to bits. I’ve played squash and badminton, but in my late 50's an injury put paid to squash.

My daughter and I shared a few adventures in Australia, including a 3 generation sky dive when I was 64. What an adrenaline buzz that was! I also went on a balloon ride and walked over the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I had a brush with cancer, and that sure made me take a new look at life. I hadn’t touched a computer before joining SeniorNet about 9yrs ago. I’ve learnt a lot since and love computing. The best thing about SeniorNet is the people I’ve met and the friends I've made. 
(From Newsletter - July 2016)