By Stan Stewart
It was seven years ago and just before the visit of Margaret’s grandkids. Whitianga was hit by a big storm which at this, time seem like a regular event. As to be expected, when the storm had passed, the grandchildren went down the beach. What was not expected was that they would return with buckets-full of shells – almost 500 of them. (Medium ostrich foot Margaret thinks).
They were Interesting! Attractive! But what do you do with so many shells gathered so attentively by two grandchildren?
Zac, her twelve-year-old grandson, had ideas for the shells and had collected them, inspired to make his idea work. “Let’s make mice!” Margaret had no idea what he was talking about. However, Zac was very keen and so she agreed to go along. “The first thing we will need is a glue gun,”said Zac. Margaret had no idea what a glue gun was. The two of them went down to ‘Pinkies’ in Lee Street, Whitianga where the item was in stock. That was the start. Then they had to search the beach for smaller shells for eyes and ears.
The rest is history. She has been selling the ‘mice’ and her own inventions from the shells, ‘flower displays’ on her stall at Whiti Markets on a Saturday morning for some years.
The flower displays use a larger shell (curved scallop) as a background for colourful and small artificial flowers. These are well loved by residents of rest homes and children love them too and want to make them. One elderly lady asked, “Do I have to water it?” “No care is needed,”smiles Margaret, “They just keep on sharing their beauty.”
Zac is now a big and strong 19-year-old. His tuition after the storm those years ago and the inspiration he shared with his grand mother regarding the shells is still adding value to her life and Margaret Hitchcock is adding value to her community. She had a business of three hair salons a few years ago now. She knows communicating and serving people well is important. Watch out for Margaret and her mice at Whiti Citi Markets in Soldiers Memorial Park on a Saturday morning.