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100th Birthday Celebration at Gracehaven Residential Care Facility

100 candles on birthday cake for local baker Marianne Van De Sluis, who is a resident at Baptistcare Gracehaven Residential Care facility.

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100th Birthday Celebration at Gracehaven Residential Care Facility

25 May 2023

News | Aged Care Homes

100 candles on birthday cake for local baker Marianne Van De Sluis, who is a resident at Baptistcare Gracehaven Residential Care facility.

As a child growing up in Poland, Marianne Van Der Sluis believed that sitting outside her home and counting birds until she reached 100 was a sign she would live to be a centenarian.

Marianne celebrated that very milestone surrounded by her many friends at Baptistcare Gracehaven Residential Care in Rockingham.

For many years, Marianne was a familiar face at the Safety Bay Bakery, a business she and her late husband John purchased a few years after they arrived in Fremantle in 1952 to start a new life in Australia.

The ambitious business venture meant early starts and long days for Marianne who did everything from baking the mouth-watering array of breads and cakes to delivering them across Safety Bay by foot.

Marianne and John found their calling in baking and went on to operate the Norseman Bakery and the Margaret River Bakery before retiring in Safety Bay in 1982.

But the couple’s life in Australia was a far cry from their early years together.

Marianne had been sent to Germany as a prisoner of war at the age of 19. It was there, in the Cottbus POW Camp a few years later, that she met 22-year-old John, a baker from the Netherlands.

Amid the harrowing backdrop of World War II, the pair fell in love and their son Hank was born in 1945.

Hank was only five months old when he was sent back to Poland with his mother and his father was returned to the Netherlands.

The family was separated for two and a half years before reuniting in the Netherlands in 1947 – the same year in which the couple were finally able to marry.

After a few years in the Netherlands, Marianne and John decided to follow some friends who had migrated to Australia and in 1952 they landed in Fremantle ready to make a new life.

The couple worked hard in their new country and three years later they had scraped together enough money to buy their first bakery.

While Marianne is no longer running her own kitchen, Hank, who also went on to become a baker, said his mother was a superb cook.

“Even today mum could cook anything,” he said.

“For her special 100th celebration we presented mum with her favourite chocolate mud cake.”

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