Newport lady celebrating 110th birthday could be Wales’ oldest woman

First published in News

SUPERCENTENARIAN Gwen Phillips marked her 110th birthday on Wednesday with a telegram from the Queen and a tea party.

The former Newport teacher, believed to be the oldest woman in Wales, woke up at her care home to find she had received telegrams from the monarch and the Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones.

The secret to her long life, besides her “strong spirit”, could be the daily tipple of brandy and port she enjoyed every morning and evening until around 18 months ago, according to Sheila Crook, the deputy manager of Danygraig care home in Chepstow Road, Newport.

Records indicate she is the oldest woman in Wales, and according to the home, was also one of the first people to receive an English honours degree in Newport.

Guinness World Records said yesterday the oldest living person in the world was Ms Misao Okawa, of Osaka, Japan, at 115.

Born on July 17, 1903, Miss Phillips never married, but all the same, looked after legions of children having taught in primary and secondary schools in Newport.

She is a devout Catholic and was formerly an organist at St Mary’s Church in Stow Hill, Newport.

The spinster also enjoyed socialising and played bridge with members of the congregation.

And Wednesday was no exception as care home staff gathered for a tea party around her bed, adorned with a heartshaped balloon embossed with the message “Happy 110th birthday Gwen”.

Mrs Crook told the Argus: “She used to love her glass of brandy and port in the morning and in the evening.

“She doesn’t drink now. She’s quite frail.

“She used to say ‘Don’t get me a cheap bottle of brandy’.

“I used to go on holiday in Portugal and brought her back a bottle of Madeira.

“She is aware it is her birthday. The first thing she said today was ‘I’ve had a telegram from the Queen’.

“For her age, she looks marvellous, for her age her skin is lovely and she has quite a lot of hair.

“Her spirit is very strong, let me tell you, I think this is what is keeping her going.”

Miss Phillips lived with her parents at a house in Risca Road, Newport, and helped them to buy the property while she worked, according to the home.

She now has dementia and was admitted to the care home after suffering a fall in 2009.

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