Canberra's leap year babies finally get to party on February 29

Canberra's leap year babies finally get to party on February 29

On Monday, Canberra youngsters Sam Hall and Ashley Smith turn eight but celebrate only their second birthday. Gundaroo identity Kerry Wagstaff is notching up 56 years but only 14 birthdays. And her uncle in Melbourne is finally celebrating his 21st birthday at the grand old age of 84.

Yep, they're all leap year babies and does it ever get old trying to marry up their age with their birthdays? This year is a leap year so all those born on February 29 finally get to celebrate their real birthday, which comes around only once every four years.

Canberra leap year babies Sam Hall, of Fadden, Kerry Wagstaff, of Gundaroo, and Ashley Smith, of Amaroo.

Canberra leap year babies Sam Hall, of Fadden, Kerry Wagstaff, of Gundaroo, and Ashley Smith, of Amaroo.Credit:Graham Tidy

The Honour Society of Leap Year Babies has more than 11,000 members worldwide.

The society had its origins in 1988 when American woman Raenell Dawn started a leap year birthday club with her cousin.


Over the years and with the advances of technology, more and more members have joined the society, bringing their stories with them, often of mothers begging doctors to change the time and date of the birth of their leap year babies or induce themselves so they missed the date all together.

But time and again the same message came through – people were eventually happy to have a child born on February 29 or to be a leap baby themselves because it made them "even more special".

"Yes, I think we do have a special bond," Ms Dawn told The Canberra Times.

"We're the only ones we can relate with about what it feels like to not see our birthday on the calendar every year. No one else knows what that's like."

A driver for Doorstop Dinners, Mrs Wagstaff said it took her a little time to warm up to being a leap year baby.

"When I was younger I didn't like it," she said.

"When I was 12, I remember my mother made a cake and put a 3 on it and I was so upset, I had friends over and I was mortified. My mum thought it was funny but I didn't.

"But now I enjoy it. No one ever forgets your birthday. If I haven't heard from someone for a couple of years, I'm guaranteed to hear from them once February 29 rolls around. I like it now. I like being a bit different.

Mrs Wagstaff will be celebrating her birthday by surprising her uncle in Melbourne as he celebrates turning 21/84.

"I remember my uncle put me into a leap year club and I was chosen to go on Simon Townsend's ​Wonder World because the host Jonathon Coleman was also a leap year baby," she said.

Lisa Smith, of Amaroo, said she was induced so her daughter Ashley was born on February 29, 2008, nine days earlier that her due date.

She was never fazed by having a child born on February 29.

"If they've got to come out, they've got to come out," she said.

Mrs Smith said people were always excited to know her daughter was a leap year baby.

"They're like 'Wow, I've never met one before'," she said.

Young Sam is just happy to have his birthday party at Big Splash, whatever the day.

Sam, Ashley and Mrs Wagstaff all celebrate their birthday on February 28 during non-leap years. But come Monday, February 29 will be all theirs.

Megan Doherty is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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