THE secrets to a long life have long puzzled scientists but Tansey resident Hilda Bessie Berry reckons while she may not have the answers, she has been able to defy the odds.

As a child growing up in London, Hilda, known among friends as Peggy, had to overcome a period of illness as a child.

Locals would often tell Peggy she would not live to see 40.

Yesterday, one of Tansey's favourite residents was enjoying the last laugh as she celebrated her 101st birthday.

Peggy lives with her daughter and carer, Alice Pitman, and after a trying start to life, the birthday cake never tasted sweeter than it did yesterday.

It was in 1950 Peggy moved to Australia, taking the long boat ride over on HMAS Asturias.

"We came out to Australia as 10 Pound Poms," Peggy said.

Peggy settled in Bathurst with her late husband Michael before the couple purchased a farm at Bauple and moved to the region mid-1950.

Three years later, they bought another Bauple farm before changing lifestyles and moving to Maryborough to run a real estate business.

Itchy feet soon returned and the couple moved to Sydney, then on to Biloela, Tannum Sands and back to Queensland's Crows Nest.

Peggy suffered a devastating loss when Michael died at the age of 83 from surgical complications arising from an operation in Toowoomba.

The Tansey resident moved back to Crows Nest where she trained trotting horses, racing them at Toowoomba and Redcliffe.

Peggy was on the move soon after, relocating to Miriam Vale up north where she again showed her tenacity by learning to walk again after breaking her hip in a bad fall.

Next on the moving list was Bundaberg before the nomad in Peggy was satisfied, giving way to a quiet life in Tansey where she now lives with her daughter and fox terrier, Tiger.

Peggy looks forward to visiting the Kilkivan markets each Sunday and yesterday passed on her wisdom for the next generation.

"Just take life as it comes and if there is trouble, fight it and soon it will go away," she said. "If you stand up to this, you will overcome adversity."

Gympie Times

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