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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.'


New base for businesses on the Isle of Wight

Seven small businesses are based at the Ventnor Enterprise Centre Credit: Ventnor Town Council

Seven small businesses have found a new home on the Isle of Wight at a new business centre.

Ventnor Town Council, the police and a health visitor team are also based at the Ventnor Enterprise Centre which has been officially opened today.

The building on Dudley Road was previously 'underused', the town council said.

Town clerk David Bartlett said: 'It has been a long project, a long journey, but it is now a wonderful facility for the town.'

Residents are invited to attend the opening until 2pm today.

Salvage team on its way to ship stranded off IoW

The Hoegh Osaka container ship remains on its side on the Bramble Bank in the Solent Credit: Dave Russell

The car transporter ship the ‘Hoegh Osaka’ remains grounded on the Bramble Bank in the Solent after running aground last night.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has said there is no reported pollution from the vessel which is listing at an angle of 45 degrees. The MCA's Counter Pollution Team will continue to monitor the vessel, which is currently assessed as being stable.

The Hoegh Osaka's owners have appointed the salvage company Svitzer to deal with the incident. A salvage team is on its way to make an initial assessment.

The salvage plans will be developed by Svitzer and then reviewed by the Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage & Intervention.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency says there is no impact on vessels travelling along the Solent because the vessel is not within a shipping channel.

Hopes grounded transporter will right itself at high tide

Car transporter on its side off the Isle of Wight Credit: Robin Britton, ITV News Meridian

A car transporter that ran aground off the Isle of Wight last night is still listing badly on its side. There is hope that the vessel may right itself at high tide, expected at 10.30am. Meanwhile crowds of spectators have gathered on the beach.

Crowds gather to see grounded transporter Credit: Robin Britton, ITV News Meridian
Other vessels in the water near the Hoegh Osaka Credit: Robin Britton, ITV News Meridian

Three police officers arrested during investigation into serious sexual offences

Hampshire Police have arrested six men - three of them serving police officers - on suspicion of conspiracy to commit serious sexual offences on the Isle of Wight.

The arrests follows information from a victim. Alleged incidents are said to have taken place this year. The officers are serving members of Hampshire Constabulary.

The investigation is ongoing. More shortly.


Isle of Wight set to lose 150 council jobs

The Isle of Wight Council has begun a consultation with staff over potential redundancies in the coming year. Around 150 jobs could go between now and the end of March 2016.

Because of a reduction in government funding and increased costs, the council says it needs to reduce its net spend by £13.5 million in the next financial year.

The council says it needs needs to 'look radically' at different ways of delivering services and allocating its resources to essential services.

Teenager disappeared exactly 18 years ago today

It is exactly 18 years since the disappearance of teenager Damien Nettles during a night out on the Isle of Wight. The last confirmed sighting of him on CCTV was at a chip shop in Cowes late on the night of November the 2nd, 1996. Despite searches taking place and rewards being offered no trace of him has ever been found. Richard Jones reports.

18 years since teenager's disappearance

Damien Nettles Credit: Nettles family

The disappearance of a teenager from the Isle of Wight is being highlighted this weekend - 18 years after he was last seen.

16-year-old Damien Nettles from Gurnard on the island was last seen during a night out in the town of Cowes in 1996.

The last confirmed sighting of Damien on surviving available CCTV was in Yorkie’s fish and chip shop off Cowes High Street at 11.35pm on Saturday, November 2, 1996.

Damien was also positively identified by his family from CCTV of Cowes High Street at 12.02am on Sunday, November 3, 1996. This footage showed Damien walking to a bus stop and then back along the High Street eating his chips.

The files on Damien Nettles remain with the Hampshire Major Investigation Team (HMIT) for regular checks. These include:

• Contacting Coroner's officers about the discoveries of any unidentified bodies similar to Damien's description.

• Analysing the credibility of any new information reported to police.

No new lines of enquiry have been identified by Hampshire Constabulary over the past year. However, the case is not closed.

Previous police actions in this case include:

• 1,134 people have been involved in the investigation (either as investigators, witnesses, or people of interest) since Damien Nettles disappeared on November 2, 1996.

• 357 witness statements have been taken to date since November 2, 1996.

• 2,553 documents have been reviewed and processed.

• Between 2010 and 2012, it was necessary for the Hampshire Major Investigation Team (HMIT) to concentrate on analysing and acting upon the information already passed to police by the local community.

• This analysis led police in 2011 to arrest eight people who were questioned over the course of a year, and later released with no further action.

• Officers focused on completing existing enquiries while suspects were on bail. We did not charge anyone with a criminal offence.

• Murder or foul play cannot be ruled out.

• Hampshire Constabulary offered a £20,000 reward between October 4, 2012 and April 4, 2013 for facts leading to the location of Damien Nettles.

• Police received 30 reports of information.

• Each of the 30 reports of information has been analysed and assessed in line with police procedures.

• None of the information led to new lines of enquiry. However, the case was not closed.

Hampshire Constabulary remains disappointed that Damien has not been found yet. Our files continue to be kept open to receive any new facts anyone may have about what happened to the teenager in November 1996.

A key point to repeat and remember in this case is the reporting of any new facts - not fictions fuelled by the repetition of rumour.

Anyone with information can contact the Hampshire Major Investigation Team (HMIT) at Fratton Police Station by phoning 101 or emailing

Message in a bottle - the discovery

Last month we reported on the beachcomber who found three messages in bottles within minutes of each other on the same stretch of Isle of Wight coastline.

Adie Butler came into the studio and we opened the bottles - inside was one message sent from Dorset, another in German, and one containing a model of a cruise ship.

Since then Adie has been able to discover more about the messages, as Richard Jones reports.

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