Western Leader : February 2nd 2012
www.aucklandnow.co.nz Thursday, February 2, 2012 Triplets celebrate 80th By SCOTT MORGAN Huge occasion: Triplets Helen Irvine, left, and Frances Robinson celebrate their 80th birthday. Their brother Neil Christie was unable to make the party. Photo: SHANE WENZLICK Navy girls: Helen and Frances pictured in their Royal New Zealand Navy uniforms with brother Neil. THE ARRIVAL of triplets on Janu- ary 27, 1932 came as a huge shock to parents Nellie and Frank Christie. Now identical twins Helen Irvine and Frances Robinson and their brother Neil Christie are celebrating their 80th birthday. I can't believe I'm 80,'' Papakura resident Helen says. It's unbelievable.'' She and Kelston resident Frances marked the big day in Papakura on Saturday with family and friends who travelled from around New Zealand and Australia. Unfortunately Neil from Lower Hutt couldn't make the party. Right from the start there were hints it wasn't going to be a normal pregnancy for Nellie when she was put on bed rest at just three months. But there was no such thing as an ultra-sound scan back in the 1930s so the Christies had no idea triplets were on the way until Nellie went into labour. When poor old mum had us we just kept on coming and coming and coming,'' Frances says. They got their family all over and done with in one go.'' Looking after three newborns in Wellington was a challenge but their parents had plenty of help from their next door neighbour -- Plunket founder Sir Truby King. Trainee nurses used to come down and help out,'' Frances says. Having an illustrious neighbour didn't stop the triplets from getting up to mischief in Sir Truby's garden from time to time. He grew a hybrid orchid and we got let loose. That's what kids get up to,'' Helen says. Siblings often tend to fight but Helen says the trio formed a tight bond. We never squealed on anybody,'' she says. But when mum found out who did it, she used to chastise us -- she always got the culprit in the end,'' she says. The sisters later joined the Royal New Zealand Navy as stewards, known as Wrens, and undertook various duties including cooking for the officers. Dad Frank was particularly proud of his girls' military service. When we went home in uniform he couldn't get us into town quick enough,'' Frances says. Helen and Frances left the navy after meeting their future husbands in the service. Both came to Auckland. Helen had five children and Frances four while Neil had two. Helen moved to Papakura and Frances to Kelston but that didn't stop them catching up regularly for lunch, coffee or a spot of shopping. Everywhere we go, like into a shop, people just stop and look. They say Are you sisters? Twins?' We say Not exactly','' Frances says. Both are like typical twins, often turning up at an event wearing exactly the same thing. They often travel down to Wel- lington to visit Neil. If we go down there we book into a backpackers.''
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