Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Britain's oldest person celebrates 112th birthday

Gladys Hooper and family Image copyright Steve Parsons/PA
Image caption Gladys Hooper has been joined by family from far and wide for her landmark birthday

The oldest person in Britain celebrates her 112th birthday, just three days after assuming the mantle.

Gladys Hooper, from Ryde on the Isle of Wight, became the country's oldest person on Thursday following the death of Ethel Lang, who was 114.

Mrs Hooper is the UK's most senior supercentenarian according to the Gerontology Research Group records.

On learning of her achievement, she said: "I am surprised, I thought I was just the oldest person on the island."

Mrs Hooper, who has four grandchildren and six great grandchildren, was born in the same year as the Wright brothers invented the first aeroplane.

Asked about the secret of her longevity, she said: "I have always been busy, I prefer being busy than being idle, that's what I don't like about now, I can't get about like I used to.

"I have always lived a straight life, never done stupid things. I have never gone beyond the limit, always been active. I think always being active keeps you young.

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Gladys Hooper was running her own car hire business in her 20s

"I have done what I wanted to do and helped others as much as I could.

"I do not feel anything like the age I am, I do not feel any different to when I was 70," Mrs Hooper said.

Born in Dulwich, south east London on 18 January 1903 she was the oldest, and now the only surviving member, of six siblings - five girls and one boy.

She was brought up in Rottingdean, east Sussex and went on to become a concert pianist before starting a car hire business in the 1920s.

She later ran Kingscliff House School, which is now Brighton College.

After being widowed in 1977 she moved to the Isle of Wight two years later to be near her son Derek Hermiston, an 84-year-old retired pilot.

Members of Mrs Hooper's family travelled from across the UK and as far away as British Columbia to be with Gladys for her big day.

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