WRITTEN BY BARBARA GILLHAM
It’s three and a half years since Esther and John Cable packed their bags, said goodbye to Auckland, and moved to their new home in Dannevirke.
Originally from Dublin, Esther moved to England when she was 18 years old. It was while working there she met John, who she laughingly says had to have a few drinks to ask her out.
“I told him to come back when he was sober, which he did, and we’ve been married now 42 years. I deserve a medal,” says Esther, in her wonderful Irish brogue.
The couple emigrated to New Zealand and settled in Auckland in 1975.
One day Esther received a call from a relative in Ireland, to say a friend’s son was moving to New Zealand and could he contact Esther - this connection led to a friendship that is still strong today.
Over the years, Esther and John kept in touch with their new friend and when they were asked to visit him and his wife in their home in Dannevirke, they did.
“We came down and saw the town and we liked it. Over the next ten or twelve years, we would come down for a few days at a time and visit our friend and his wife. We loved the atmosphere here, we got to know a few more people and met their friends.”
Having lived in Auckland for over 20 years, the couple began to think about the things they wanted for their future.
“We looked around Auckland and the only thing we really liked about the place was the sea and being able to go down to the harbour.
John had built a boat that he used to go out fishing, but we thought, well we can’t really afford the fishing trips much longer, not now we are retired, so what shall we do?”
When their friend - who was now a real estate agent in the town - rang them and suggested they move to Dannevirke, Esther’s initial thought was no.
“We had all our friends in Auckland and also John’s family - but we thought it over and decided to come down and look at some houses anyway.
Well, we saw this house and loved it, so we went back and put our home on the market on the Friday and by Sunday it was sold.
Then we packed up and moved down here, and it was the best thing we did, we haven’t regretted that decision for one minute,” says Esther.
With her wonderful smile, engaging personality and wicked sense of humour, it is little wonder Esther soon made many friends in Dannevirke.
While John is happier staying out of the limelight, preferring to work in the garden or make things that Esther would like for their home, Esther has quickly become a familiar face around town.
Working as a part-time caregiver with the elderly, a job she says she loves, she has also thrown herself into a number of groups and organisations.
“I’ve joined Probus, Grey Power, I’m doing floral art and I’m one of the drivers on the Shuttle car,” she says.
Esther’s outgoing personality also led to her being asked to play the part of Gloria in the play, ‘Who wants to be 100? Anyone who’s 99.’ at the Fountain Theatre in 2015.
“I played Gloria, who is an Irish activity coordinator, and it was so funny, it really was hilarious. I was so nervous doing it and some nights I forgot my words so I just made up my own. The people I met at the theatre were just wonderful, hopefully they’ll ask me to do another play, I’d love to do more theatre,” she says.
Esther says since leaving Auckland the house they sold has gone up in value.
“Friends in Auckland have said we shouldn’t have left, we could get $250,000 more for it if we were selling it now.
I just say I’ve made $250,000 worth of friends in Dannevirke and they are worth more to me than the money. This is a wonderful place, with wonderful people and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”