Real Life

Supergran to the rescue

Kiwi grandma Elizabeth Wilson proves you can do it all at any age.

By Linda Shackelford
Elizabeth Wilson

Elizabeth Wilson’s grandchildren are leaping around her backyard with typical after-school excitement. Like most youngsters, Honie (8) and Lockyer (6) love spending time with their “Nannie”, but while many of their peers go home to their parents at the end of the day, these two do not.

Elizabeth stepped in to help when the children’s parents separated, taking full custody while juggling her own health woes. She’s committed to giving the children the most supportive environment she can.

“Honie has selective mutism, so she only speaks when she feels comfortable, and Lockyer has learning and speech difficulties,” Elizabeth explains.

Elizabeth (57) had her eldest son when she was 17 and her second son at 27. Parenting all over again was never something the Aucklander expected to do.

 Lockyer and Honie have blossomed since moving in with Elizabeth.
Lockyer and Honie have blossomed since moving in with Elizabeth.

The skin and ovarian cancer survivor now lives with rheumatoid arthritis. But creating a “normal” home life for the children is her priority.

“Parenting is hard at this age. It is tiring but I do my best to provide the children with everything they need, physically and emotionally.”

Although claiming the invalid and unsupported children’s benefits, paying for two kids’ food, clothing and school essentials was putting Elizabeth under massive pressure. “I even had to ask Work and Income New Zealand for a food grant.”

Elizabeth sought assistance from Variety – The Children’s Charity, which runs the Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme. Thanks to the generosity of anonymous Kiwis, needy children are sponsored and receive funding for basic items.

“So far, I’ve been able to buy the children shoes, pants, a couple of tops and socks from The Warehouse.”

Honie and Lockyer’s father still plays a role in their lives and Elizabeth says the current situation is working well.

Elizabeth smiles and says, “I’m pleased with how happy and changed they are. Lockyer plays rugby league now, and Honie’s improved too! She plays netball, enjoys drama and goes on playdates.”

Supporting Kiwi kids in need:

About the Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme:

  • Children who need help are referred by schools and specialist agencies. There are 100 children on the waiting list for sponsors now.
  • Sponsors pay a minimum of $35 a month to provide basics for Kiwi kids in need.
  • Money given meets the specific needs of the child and is not used for other family bills. Variety makes all payments and channels all communication.
  • For more info, visit variety.org.nz

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