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Britain's oldest woman says "not racing about" is secret of long life

ITV Meridian joined 112 year old Gladys Hooper at her home in Ryde on the Isle of Wight to celebrate her birthday. She is officially Britain's oldest person following the death on Thursday of Ethel Lang, who was 114. Gladys told us she has no secret to her longevity, except that she's never liked racing about. We spoke to Gladys and her son, Derek Hermiston.

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Happy Birthday Gladys - 112 years young for Britain's oldest person

Gladys celebrates her birthday with family Credit: ITV Meridian

Britain's oldest woman, Gladys Hooper, has celebrated her 112th birthday with friends and family at her home on the Isle of Wight.

Mrs Hooper, who has a son, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, said her special treat for the day would be to have 'a nice birthday cake'.

The great-grandmother, who was born the same year the Wright brothers invented the first successful aeroplane, puts the secret of her success down to keeping active and 'living a straight life'.

And she said she does not feel a day over 70.

Gladys says she doesn't feel a day over 70 Credit: ITV Meridian

She became the country's oldest on Thursday following the death of Ethel Lang, who was 114.

Members of her family have travelled from Brighton, Derby and even British Colombia to be with Mrs Hooper for her big day.

Family came from all over the world to celebrate Credit: ITV Meridian

Britain's oldest person celebrates 112th birthday

Britain's oldest person Gladys Hooper celebrates her 112th birthday today Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Image

Britain's oldest person, Gladys Hooper, is celebrating her 112th birthday on the Isle of Wight today, just three days after taking the title.

She became the country's oldest on Thursday following the death of Ethel Lang, who was 114.

Members of her family have travelled from Brighton, Derby and even British Colombia to be with Mrs Hooper for her big day.

Mrs Hooper, who has a son, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, said her special treat for the day would be to have 'a nice birthday cake'.

The great-grandmother, who was born the same year the Wright brothers invented the first successful aeroplane, puts the secret of her success down to keeping active and 'living a straight life'.

And she said she does not feel a day over 70.

The theme of aviation has run through her long life - she was good friends at college with Amy Johnson who became a famous aviatrix; her husband Leslie, whom she married in 1922, was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in the two World Wars; and her son, Derek Hermiston, is a retired pilot.

Mrs Hooper is the oldest of the country's supercentenarians, according to a list maintained by the Gerontology Research Group.

On finding out the news, Mrs Hooper, who lives in an apartment in her 84-year-old son's house in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, said: 'I am very surprised, I thought I was just the oldest person on the island.'

She added: 'The secret of my success? I have always been busy, I prefer being busy than being idle, that's what I don't like about now is 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.

'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.'

Britain's oldest person Gladys Hooper surrounded by three generations of her family, son Derek (top left), granddaughter Christine (top right) and great-grandsons Matthew (front left) and David (front right).

Mrs Hooper was widowed in 1977 and moved to the island in 1979 to be nearer her family.

She said: 'I do not actually live with them, I have an apartment in their house. I just had one son and he's marvellous.

'It is nice to have family nearby, it's nice to know you can ask them for anything if you need to.'

Mrs Hooper said she did not feel that the world had changed dramatically in her life time.

She said: 'I think I have lived with the years as they have gone by. Things haven't got any better, there's so much trouble in the world.'

Mr Hermiston said: 'I am very proud of her, she does very well since she was 100. She is very compos mentis, no dementia at all. She is a really nice person who has done a lot of good things for others during her war service.'

Born Gladys Nash on January 18 1903, she was born in Dulwich, south east London, and 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. In the early 1920s she also started what is thought to be one of the first car hire companies called Autodrive and was asked by the founder of Hertz if she would be his managing director.

She later ran Kingscliff House School, which is now Brighton College, as well as nursing her husband for 13 years.

Mrs Hermiston said: 'She has done an awful lot, she is a very strong lady, a very amazing person.'

He's certainly not a 'scaredy-cat': tabby walks into the line of fire

The RSPCA is appealing for information after a cat took a walk on the wild side, and wandered past a firing range and into a police training centre in Gravesend, Kent.

The adult tabby and white male cat, thought to be around two or three years old, was first spotted at the centre in Mark Lane on Thursday. It is not known where he came from as the centre is in a remote area far from any homes.

The cat certainly risked on of his nine lives

He made himself at home with the security guards at the gatehouse to the centre for a few days while staff fed him and cared for him as they tried to trace an owner.

"We're so far out here I just have no idea where he came from - he just turned up one day and settled himself in."

– LEANNE FERGUSON, SECURITY TEAM LEADER

A purrfect day out for Mr Pinky with his new 'cat pass'

Mr Pinky takes a bus ride with his 'cat pass' Credit: Reading Buses
Mr. Pinky with Martijn Gilbert and Tim Wheeler Credit: Reading Buses
Mr Pinky's bus pass Credit: Reading buses

The award of his very own personalised smart card from Reading Buses.

With his owner Tim Wheeler of Tilehurst in tow, Mr. Pinky wasclearly ‘feline’ great as he tried out his new card on the bus.

Said Martijn Gilbert, Reading Buses Chief Executive Officer: “We are delighted to give Mr. Pinky his own smart card as we know he is a big supporter of our buses.

“It also goes to show that we cater for all cat-egories of customers in Reading.”

The company decided to give Mr. Pinky his own bus smart card after receiving a Christmas card from him. The greeting stated ‘with lots of love and purrs.’

Said Martijn: “We felt it only right to thank Mr. Pinky for thinking of us at Christmas and decided that an appropriate gift would be a smartcard featuring a picture of himself.

“This is a new card front as we have never had a Cat-ID cardbefore.”

It’s not the cat’s first smartcard, however. After deciding to give him his own smart card, Reading Buses discovered that a previous incarnation of Mr Pinky had been given a card by Bournemouth Yellow Bus.

“After reading that, we definitely felt that Mr Pinky needed hisown smartcard from his home town bus service,” said Martijn. “After all, ours are the buses that he travels on the most.”

The new ‘Cat-ID’ smart card will help the famous cat continue his travels.

And Mr Pinky? He definitely looked like the contented cat that got the cream.

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