In the days leading up to her 100th birthday, South Surrey’s Betty Nebel knew exactly what she wanted.
“Less aches and pains,” she laughed, while enjoying afternoon tea with close friend Jillian Leakey last week.
Saturday, the English-born centenarian celebrated the milestone with loved ones, including Leakey, who noted Nebel is in no way slowing down.
“You always feel young inside,” she said.
“She was known as the walking lady up until five years ago. She was always charging up and down Johnston Road.”
Nebel has been active all her life, whether it was playing tennis, badminton or lawn bowling. She fondly remembered receiving her first tennis racket from her sister Dorothy while a teenager in England.
“That was my passion. My sister was the brains and I was the braun,” she said.
“My sister bought me my first racket. I played for years.”
For most of her life, Nebel could be found playing on various courts, often placing in a number of championship games. Trophies from her playing days in England and Canada are stored away in a closet.
“They need to be polished,” she noted.
Following the end of the Second World War, Nebel, her husband, Jim, and three-year-old son, Graham, moved to Saltair on Vancouver Island in 1967 with her father-in-law, where they lived for most of their lives. While she admitted there wasn’t many places to play tennis, she still holds many fond memories of the small community.
“That is home for me,” Nebel said. “I want my ashes to be scattered there.”
When she was 90, Nebel moved to South Surrey and into Whitecliff Retirement Residence in order to be closer to family, including her two grandsons, Colin and Kevin, and to the water.
“Back then, she was still on the Island and all her family was over here,” Leakey said. “And she wanted to be by the water. She loves the water.”