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Ruth, who was with family and friends at Woodcote Retirement Village in Hornby for her recent birthday parts, showed off cards from the Queen and the governor-general while reflecting on her past 100 years.
Stepdaughter Lynette West reckons her attitude to life is the key to her longevity. At 97, Ruth is still driving a car.
“She’s very unflappable, gets on and she can see through a lot of the other stuff … she’s been a great friend to me,” said West.
Born Ruth Harkerss in Lyttelton on February 13, 1921, her parents lived in Purau, near Diamond Harbour, where her father, Albert, was a shepherd.
The family bought a farm at Hanmer Rd in Brookside, in 1924, where Ruth later attended Brookside School.
She then went on to attend Southbridge District High School for four years, travelling by Day’s Motors school bus along the main Springston to Leeston road.
She met future husband Doug Goulden at high school at the age of 16, but the pair didn’t start “going out” until 1938.
“I was friends with his sister, and we just sort of met on the steps of the hall at Southbridge, after the pictures,” Ruth said.
When World War 2 was declared Goulden enlisted and went overseas from November 1940. Meanwhile, Ruth became a voluntary aid detachment nurse.
After what seemed like a “very long wait,” they married on his return in January 1945. She recalls being given ration coupons by friends and family to buy material for the wedding dresses.
The family farm was sold in 1944 and they shifted to Pennington St, Leeston, renting a house opposite the Catholic church.
Goulden started a garage in Southbridge in a building on the corner of High and Hastings Sts, and the couple lived in a house next door. But in February 1986, he died.
A year later, Ruth married Ken Cridge – someone she had attended Brookside School with. Before his death in 2004, the couple enjoyed traction engine rallies and ballroom dancing.
Ruth continued to live in Southbridge and was still part of the wider community.
Her community endeavours included being a cub leader, Plunket and being part of the Southbridge Horticultural Society, where she remains patron.
She is also a life member of the RSA having been part of the women’s auxiliary.
Ruth says she “loves life at Woodcote” and said the staff are “very good” to her.
She has nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Most of them, and many of the nieces, nephews and cousins celebrated with her at the afternoon tea.