100 birthdays for Dutch survivor Melanie Kuiper

SHE was born in Europe just prior to the start of World War I and survived the bombing of her home in World War II, so to celebrate her 100th birthday was quite the milestone for Tamworth resident Melanie Kuiper.

Mrs Kuiper celebrated her special day with family and friends at the Square Man Inn on Saturday, with a niece and two nephews coming from her native Netherlands, a niece and her husband from San Francisco and others from Melbourne, Brisbane, Wollongong, Newcastle and the North Coast.

Granddaughter and Tamworth resident Toni Kuiper said several other Dutch relatives wanted to attend but were unable to make the trip. 

Mrs Kuiper was born in the Netherlands in 1914, she and her sibilings spending a lot of time on houseboats as her father travelled around as a dike builder.

Not long after she was married in 1943, the war that had engulfed Europe came knocking on her door, a bomb destroying the home of her and husband Bert and another bomb hitting the shelter they’d moved into shortly after.

They survived but Bert and their young daughter had to be hospitalised and Mrs Kuiper had to be dug out from under the rubble, suffering permanent hearing loss in one ear.

The Kuipers and their two children immigrated to Australia in 1950, spending several months in migrant camps in Bathurst before moving to Erina after putting a “pin into a map”.

They bought a block in the Central Coast town and lived for two years in a tent as they saved enough money to build a house. A goat farm at Wingham became their home many years later, where sadly Bert passed away.

Mrs Kuiper moved to Manilla in 1985 and then Tamworth about 12 years ago.

So, what does she put her longevity down to?

Well, Toni says she doesn’t drink or smoke, watches what she eats and takes vitamins regularly, which she jokingly refers to as her “lifesavers”.

“She also sees the funny side of life,” her granddaughter said.

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