Very busy and active in her 104 years

Mosgiel resident Lilian Renault spent her early 20s living in the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands....
Mosgiel resident Lilian Renault spent her early 20s living in the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands. and will celebrate her 104th birthday tomorrow, on Anzac Day. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Celebrating her 104th birthday on Anzac Day has special significance for a Mosgiel woman who lived through Nazi occupation.

Lilian Renault, nee Maloret, was born in 1920 on Jersey, part of the Channel Islands.

Mrs Renault was the oldest of six, who were raised in St Helier, at the time under British control.

However, when she was 20, daily life changed when Nazi Germany invaded and occupied the islands in June 1940.

The Nazis occupied Mrs Renault’s hometown for five years until near the end of World War 2 and she remembered hosting a group of Nazi officers in her living room.

During Nazi occupation, Lilian made time to get married to Auguste Renault in 1943. The couple had a child, Michael, before leaving the island for New Zealand in March 1951 aboard the ship Rangitata on a six-week voyage thorough the Panama Canal and across the world.

The family of three initially lived in Roxburgh, where Mr Renault was employed helping build the Roxburgh Dam.

Two years later, the family moved to Fairfield in Dunedin, where they set down roots and lived for the rest of their lives.

In 1958, the couple had their second son, Paul.

Mrs Renault returned to Jersey twice in her life to see her siblings who all stayed on the islands, as well as to visit her friends.

She went once with her husband in 1980 and made a solo trip in the early 2000s.

Mrs Renault said living to 104 was down to "pure luck", but said her lifetime of sobriety and only having "one or two cigarettes, no more than that," may have contributed to her long life.

Her life had been "very busy and very active, and all done sober — that might be the secret".

Mrs Renault said she had been to a couple of dawn services on her birthday, but this year she would be spending her day with a party organised at Mossbrae Lifecare in Mosgiel.

Mrs Renault is now a grandmother of four and a great-grandmother of six.

These days, Mrs Renault, who remains very active, still enjoys the good things in life — she sometimes sneaks away to the supermarket to pick up chocolate biscuits for impromptu afternoon teas.