My in-laws built in Laura Rd, St Francis, in 1970

We made a permanent move to St Francis in 2005 when we bought the Pam Golding franchise.

An era came to an end for us on 26 May, when Derek Purdy passed away. Derek and his wife Margaret are the reason we live in St Francis today, having built a house in Laura Road in 1970. I met Jane in 1981 and St Francis has always played a large role in our lives together.

Jane Arderne writes about her childhood in St Francis Bay:

The early days in St Francis Bay were filled with Hobie Cat races from Hobie Beach and Ann Avenue, lots of sailing boat races in the river, every household had a beach buggie and we used to drive the short distance (about 100m) to the beach, loaded with boogie boards, umbrellas and sandwiches for a day of sunshine and salty swims. We had about 100m between families (there were so few of us!) that we had so much space to run and play.

The beach was wide and flat and if we didn’t bring the beach buggie, the walk from our spot back over the dunes to our house in Laura Rd was such a mission as our feet nearly boiled on the copious sand dunes, if we didn’t have slip slops! Then we had to face the ants on the limed sand roads back to the house.. our road was just a track when we built and Dads big old Mercedes was like a tractor bumping along to the house every year, with a trailer filled with food and toys!

We used to spend hours in the sand dunes of Santareme, before there were any houses and prior to all of the Port Jackson Willow being thrown onto the dunes to reclaim the land. Again our buggies were the perfect mode of transport and the sunsets from the dunes were spectacular.

My other very vivid memory was the roof wetting of the hotel.. my dad, Derek Purdy and Peter Bosman (who spoke at his memorial and who has been a lifelong friend of 83 years) went as Siamese Twins with lampshades on their heads (Dad tall at over 6ft and Peter Bosman really quite short!) My brothers and I went as ghosts, Mum made holes in 3 sheets and we had such fun playing with the other local kids on the construction site.

I was reminded, the other day, of the 10 cattle grids to get from Humansdorp to St Francis in the early days and the joy of a flood as it meant we were delayed in going back to school in Joburg.. and the pain for my parents of having to try and dial out on Mrs Roberts telephone exchange, to let the schools know we were stuck! Apart from fairly modest items bought at the trading store, everything came in from Humansdorp and such a trek it was.

A big highlight for us children was the movie nights at the TENNIS COURT WALL! A broken piece of practise wall, that the adults would show a movie on, using an old fashioned reel projector was a night to remember.. a western or something mild for the whole family. It was such fun, the adults sitting on deck chairs with a picnic, (I’m sure they had beers and wine but I don’t remember taking note of this!) .. us kids all snuggled up on rugs, out in the open air, watching movies together. Again I don’t remember the wind.. its wonderful to be a child!

Another teenage highlight, was New Years eve parties. We didn’t have any big organized parties, but all got together with the other families and celebrated at someone’s house.. dancing with our folks, friends and finally ending up on the beach to sing auld lang syne around a bonfire.

Cape St Francis was quite a drive away in those days and we didn’t really know many people from THERE… we were also so proud of our thatched houses that all looked the same, and theirs were all different which we didn’t like! How things have changed!

Our holidays were barefoot, carefree and perfect. I even think the wind didn’t blow much in those days!

Derek and Margaret moved here permanently from Joburg in 2000. Derek lost his wife after 60 years of marriage in 2014, missed her terribly, and suffered a stroke in April this year, from which he never recovered. His friends (especially those in Laura Road) have been very good to him, for which his children are very grateful. Derek loved fishing and golf, and was very musical, and had a successful business in Joburg. He is missed by his three children Rob, Jane, and Mike, and their spouses, Carmen, Richard and Sarah and his eight grandchildren. John Arderne and Paula Cheshire also passed away in the last few years.