Grace Jones, born on 7th December 1899 and the only surviving Briton to have lived for the whole of the 20th century, has died peacefully this morning. Grace was 113 years and 342 days old, and as well as being Britain's oldest resident, was the sixth oldest person in the world.
Grace Jones was born and lived very nearly all her life in Bermondsey, continued to live in her own council flat until just a few weeks ago, but after a fall, and treatment in St Thomas' Hospital, had to spend her last few weeks in a local nursing home, where she died peacefully this morning.
Grace, who was engaged during the first world war to a fiancé who tragically was killed on active service, never married, worked as a seamstress and for the government during and after the second world war until her retirement - about half a century ago. Grace continued to live with her mother, brother and sister until the final member of her close family, George, died about thirteen years ago. Since then Grace continued to live in her own flat, looked after by wonderful neighbours, Carol Pooke and Sue Wilmer, and other friends. Though with declining strength in recent years, Grace did her own shopping until only a few years ago, went out as recently as this autumn, and was mentally as bright as a button with a brilliant memory right up until last Sunday. A committed and lifelong Christian, Grace was visited in the last 24 hours by her local parish priest as well as several close friends.
Reacting to the news of her death Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, who with other friends last visited Grace yesterday, said this morning:
"Grace's friends and neighbours and the wider Bermondsey community are very sad today at the news of Grace's death. But we pay tribute to Grace for her wonderful long life, for her commitment to her faith, her family and her community, and we know that a woman of such strong Christian faith faced death with no fear. Although she found her failing strength frustrating, right up until her last week Grace's memory and intellect were undimmed.
"Enormous thanks are due to her neighbours, Carol and Sue, to her friends Ron and Eileen, Joan and Fred and Sandra and Trevor and to the nurses and other staff of Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals, the local health and social services team and the nursing home where she died. All those who met Grace knew they had met one of London's most doughty individuals and she will never be forgotten."
Arrangements for Grace Jones' funeral will be made by FA Albin and Sons of Bermondsey and announced in due course.