Britain's oldest person Gladys Hooper wishes for tea and cake on 113th birthday


Britain's oldest person, Gladys Hooper, has said all she wants for her 113th birthday is to celebrate with a slice of cake and a cup of tea.

The great-grandmother, who was born in the year the Wright brothers invented the first successful aeroplane, will celebrate with family and friends from across the country at the nursing home in Ryde, Isle of Wight, where she lives.

Mrs Hooper, a former concert pianist, said: "I don't feel very different to when I was 75."

She said she would be happy with a cup of tea and a cake for her birthday and, when asked if there was anything special she would like, she added: "No, I do not think so, everybody is friendly and things are satisfactory."

Mrs Hooper said she was looking forward to celebrating with her family, adding: "Especially now I don't get about myself."

Mrs Hooper became the oldest person in the world to undergo a hip replacement operation last October, carried out by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Jason Millington at St Mary's Hospital in Newport.

Following the operation, she moved into the Highfield Nursing Home in Ryde from a flat connected to the home of her son, Derek Hermiston, 85, where she had lived for 12 years.

Mr Hermiston, a retired pilot, said: "I am very proud of her, I have known her for quite a long time and I have seen her life when she was young, when she was a very agile person and always the centre of parties.

"She was a great pianist, I remember going to the Dorchester Hotel in London a few times where she was playing.

"Now we see her hands moving up and down and I think she dreams quite a lot of her piano days, I think she has melodies going through her head which is rather nice for her and those melodies bring back very happy memories.

"Music gave her a very happy life, she met a lot of people through music and I think it sustains her now in these later years."

Mr Hermiston added: "I asked her what she would like for her birthday and she said, 'I wouldn't mind a nice new set of teeth'."

Describing the impact of the hip operation, he said: "She has got over the operation very well. She was living with us for 12 years but because of the hip operation they decided she needed 24-hour care and to that end she has been in Highfield ever since.

"I do not think it has affected her, when she gets out of bed she gets a little pain from the hip operation. But one thing that did happen was three weeks ago we had a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records notifying us that she was the oldest person with a new hip and that was quite a moment."

Mrs Hooper was widowed in 1988 when her husband, Leslie, who was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in the two World Wars, died.

She had another link to aviation as she was good friends at college with Amy Johnson, who became a famous aviatrix.

Born Gladys Nash on January 18 1903, she was brought up in Rottingdean, Brighton, East Sussex, and went on to study at college.

She became a concert pianist in London and played with famous band leaders of the time such as Jack Payne, Debroy Somers and Maurice Winnick.

She also started what is thought to have been the first car hire company in the capital and later ran Kingscliff House School, which is now Brighton College, as well as nursed her husband for 13 years.

Mr Hermiston also said his mother witnessed the shooting down of a German airship in 1916 by Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, and she will feature in a documentary being made by the pilot's great nephew.