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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

An anniversary

My grandmother rejoiced in an unusual first name - for a woman that is. Hector Mary Heron nee Hopkins was born on this day in 1899 at her parents farm near Harrismith in the then Boer Republic of the Oranje Vrijstaat. Her parents though, Richard Vaux Hopkins and Gertrude Hopkins (nee Bowes), were British through and through and owned one of the largest farms in a large country. On the day my grandmother was born, General Hector MacDonald drove a Boer Commando out of Harrismith and began a campaign to secure the Eastern Orange Free State of Boer Forces which would ultimately lead to the capture of Bloemfontein and then the advance into the Transvaal Republic.

Ironically her future father in law was with the army advancing from the Cape. Colour Sergeant James Heron was with his Regiment, the Royal Irish Rifles, having left at home his wife Susan, two year old daughter Mabel and infant son, Henry Nelson. Twenty-two years later Hector Mary and Henry Nelson would meet in Johannesburg, and in 1925 they married.

They died in 1977 within six months of one another. I remember them with pride because they played a very large part in my childhood and, without doubt, gave me the values I still hold to today. And, in case you were wondering, the 'hero' in my books, is named after my grandfather. When the fourth book finds its way into print you will meet Hector Mary as well.

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