Britain's oldest woman dies weeks before 112th birthday

BRITAIN'S oldest woman, Annie Turnbull, has died just three weeks shy of what would have been her 112th birthday.

Mrs Turnbull passed away at the care home in Leith where she had moved three years ago, having lived semi-independently in sheltered accommodation until the age of 109.

Her strength and longevity astounded friends and family but her advancing years made her something of a reluctant celebrity, and she was never fully comfortable with the mantle of Britain's oldest woman.

Daughter Margaret Paterson, 77, said: "She didn't like to make a fuss. Everybody that knew her had a good word to say about her. You can make a lot of friends in 111 years.

"She was a wonderful woman and while she lived to a marvellous age the years always failed to show."

Mrs Turnbull lived during the reigns of six British monarchs, outlived the premierships of 26 prime ministers and survived two world wars.

Born on 21 September 1898 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, her life has witnessed the advent of TV, air travel and the birth of the NHS.

Born and brought up in Stoneyburn, West Lothian, Mrs Turnbull moved to the Capital after leaving school aged 14.

Dougie Donnelly, 74, whose mother was a close friend of Mrs Turnbull in Stoneyburn, said: "Annie was often fond of telling people that she used to push me around in my pram, which was a very long time ago considering my age now. She always used to tell me stories about life in Stoneyburn back in the day, about who worked in which pub and who lived where. She was the last link to the days of old.

"She was a marvellous woman, and to me she was always my auntie Annie."

The year of her birth saw the introduction of Edinburgh's first motor buses "the Penny Stinkers" as well as the opening of the Glenogle Baths in Stockbridge.

She went into service as a table-maid, a job she held for most of her working life.

The job gave her the chance to meet well-known people, including author Rudyard Kipling.

She lived in Easter Road until the age of 92, before moving to the Manderston Court sheltered housing complex.

Britain's oldest woman is now Elsie Steele, of Repton in Derbyshire, who is due to turn 112 on January 6 next year.

The world's current oldest living person remains Frenchwoman Eugnie Blanchard at 114 years and 204 days.

The oldest person in recorded history was Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who set the record at 122 before her death in 1997.

Mrs Turnbull died last Thursday, September 2, after a short illness. Her funeral will be held at Seafield Crematorium at 11am on Saturday.