Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Funeral held on Isle of Wight for UK's oldest person

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Media captionA bell was rung 113 times at All Saints' Church in her memory

The funeral of a woman who was the UK's oldest person until her death at the age of 113 has taken place.

Gladys Hooper, who was born in the same year the Wright brothers first took to the air, died at a nursing home in Ryde, Isle of Wight, on 9 July.

A bell was rung 113 times at All Saints' Church in her memory.

In January, thousands of well-wishers sent her birthday messages, and a video of her First World War memories has reached more than three million people.

Mrs Hooper was a concert pianist in her younger days of some of her favourite songs were played during the service.

Her coffin was also draped in an RAF flag to reflect her love of aviation and the fact her husband and son were both air force pilots.

Image copyright Andrew Hooper
Image caption Gladys Hooper, pictured aged two and 112, with her father and great-grandson
Image copyright Andrew Hooper
Image caption She was married in 1922 to Leslie Hooper, who was an RAF pilot during the Second World War

Son Derek Hermiston said: "Although there is a certain amount of sadness I think it's time that we celebrated this very long and interesting life of Gladys.

"One that is not likely to be repeated."

Rev Canon Graham Morris added: "The people that Gladys knew are the people that I learnt about in the history books at school.

"She is history in the making."

The great-grandmother was the country's most senior supercentenarian, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

She was born in London in 1903, the same year the Wright brothers made the first powered aircraft flight.

At college, she became friends with Amy Johnson, later a pioneering aviator who flew solo from England to Australia.

During the First World War, she watched a Zeppelin coming down in flames over Hertfordshire after it was attacked by a British pilot.

Image copyright Steve Parsons
Image caption Thousands of people from across the world sent her birthday wishes in January

Last year, Mrs Hooper broke a Guinness World Record when she became the oldest person in the world - at 112 - to have a hip operation.

People from the US, Canada, Belgium and Australia passed on their birthday wishes on Facebook when Mrs Hooper turned 113 in January.

According to the Office for National Statistics figures, there were 14,450 centenarians - people aged 100 and over - in the UK in 2014, with 780 estimated to be aged 105 or more.

The oldest person in the world is thought to be Emma Morano, from Italy, who celebrated her 116th birthday last November, according to Gerontology Research Group.

It had listed Mrs Hooper as the 12th oldest in the world.

According to the website Oldest In Britain, Bessie Camm, who is 112 and from Rotherham, is now the oldest person in the country.

Gladys Hooper

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption In the 1920s Gladys Hooper ran her own car hire business
  • Gladys Hooper was born Gladys Nash in Dulwich, south-east London, on 18 January 1903 - the year the Wright brothers first took to the air, and the same year author George Orwell was born
  • She was the oldest of six siblings and went on to become the only surviving one of the 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, 85, a retired pilot
  • She became the UK's oldest person three days before her 112th birthday, after Ethel Lang, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, died aged 114

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