Eastbourne identity Mary Greig-Clayton admits it’s been hard to leave her home town after 67 years.
Last month Ms Greig-Clayton said her farewells and moved to Orewa to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren in Auckland.
Her departure ended an association with Eastbourne that began as a five-month-old baby when her parents moved back from India in 1945. “We lived in Rona St. I can remember starting at Muritai School when I was five. The teachers were very strict - especially Miss Kibblewhite.”
She agrees it was idyllic environment in which to grow up. “It was great. From the time we were eight we could roam anywhere without parental supervision.”
But when the young Mary started “getting a little too rough and tough”, her parents packed her off to Chilton St James in Lower Hutt. “After I settled down I had a great time. I learned to play the cello.”
After completing a BA in psychology at Victoria University Ms Greig-Clayton went overseas with her then husband and spent a year living in South Africa and Europe. When they returned they lived in the city. “Then we bought our first house in Eastbourne. It cost us $20,000. That was 1971.’
Seven years later she was offered the chance to become a real estate salesperson. “They said I could earn $19,000 a year. That was really good money for a solo mother in 1978.’
Apart from two years managing Harcourts’ Petone office and six months as Wellington training manager, Ms Greig-Clayton has spent more than three decades selling real estate in Eastbourne and the eastern bays. “If you think by reading a novel you’re getting inside the skin of the characters, selling real estate is getting inside their lives.”
She says Eastbourne is the best place in the world to sell real estate. “The place is so stunningly beautiful. It’s a very good community. The place is safe, friendly and interesting.”
While real estate is rewarding Ms Greig-Clayton says it is hard work. “You’re on duty six and a half days a week. If you do real estate
you do real estate. There’s not much time for anything else.”
Ms Greig-Clayton bought Harcourts Eastbourne in 1991 and ran it for more than two decades. But earlier this year she decided the time was right to move on. “There was a chance that I could one-day reach my used-by date. It was time to move over and let someone younger take over. It was about time I retired.”
She has few plans for her retirement apart from spending more time with husband, Barry. Put she is taking advantage for her additional free time to reacquaint herself with the cello. “I’ve been taking lessons. I find I’m picking it up pretty quickly.”