Violet (100) on the ball and never far from the ball

Violet Byers is never far from the ball, especially during a celebration in Mosgiel for her 100th...
Violet Byers is never far from the ball, especially during a celebration in Mosgiel for her 100th birthday. Photo: Linda Robertson
Violet Byers spent nearly 40 years playing and umpiring netball, and claims she "never once" got an injury on court.

"These days are very different," she said during a family gathering on Saturday, for her 100th birthday which is officially tomorrow.

"I never thought I would make it to 100. Even 12 months ago, I never thought it would happen.

"I thought I was sure to do something silly and fall over, or something. At this age, that could mean the end of it.

"I’m counting every day as a blessing these days."

Mrs Byers (nee Ingram) partly attributed her longevity to being very active in her younger years.

She was an accountant by day, but at the weekends she was an Otago netball and cricket representative, a New Zealand netball umpire, and an examiner of umpires for New Zealand.

"I enjoyed cricket, too, but I wasn’t very good. I was there because I was speedy. I could run quickly between the wickets.

"I maintain that’s how I caught my [late] husband Graham. He probably couldn’t run as fast as me," she said with a wink.

However, Mrs Byers gave most of the credit for her century to "just simply enjoying life".

"Take it as it comes and enjoy what you can. You have your stumbling blocks but you overcome them and just carry on anyway."

She still catches up with old team-mates and friends from her days on the netball court, including former Silver Fern netball player, coach and administrator, and former Tall Fern basketball player Dame Lois Muir, who also attended the gathering on Saturday.

The pair used to play together for the Albion netball team.

"I’ve had my netball for so long and had the comradeship of all those people at netball. There were some very great people."

As much as she would love to, she said she did not play netball any more.

"I couldn’t. I’d have to take my walker," she said.

Mrs Byers celebrated her birthday at the Chatsford Events Centre, in Mosgiel, with her sisters Win Barnett (97) and Joan Blair (95), her daughter, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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