Britain's oldest person celebrates 112th birthday

Gladys Hooper was a concert pianist before starting one of the first car hire companies. Credit: PA

Britain's oldest person Gladys Hooper has said she does not feel a day over 70 as she celebrates her 112th birthday.

She took the title following the death of the country's previous oldest person Ethel Lang three days ago at the age of 114.

Great-grandmother Mrs Hooper, who was born the same year the Wright brothers invented the first successful plane, puts the secret of her success down to keeping active and "living a straight life".

On finding out the news Mrs Hooper, who lives in the Isle of Wight, said: "I am very surprised, I thought I was just the oldest person on the island."

Gladys Hooper aged 21. Credit: PA

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

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

In the early 1920s she 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 nursed her husband for 13 years until his death in 1977.

Gladys Hooper as a child with her father William Nash. Credit: PA

A birthday party is being held for her tomorrow with family travelling from Brighton and Derby as well as a relative coming from British Colombia, Canada.

Mrs Hooper said her special treat for the day would be to have "a nice birthday cake".

Mrs Lang, the last person born in the UK during the reign of Queen Victoria, died on Thursday at Water Royd House nursing home in Barnsley.

The oldest person in the world is thought to be Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman who celebrated her 116th birthday in March last year.