One of Wales' oldest women, born just months after the Titanic sank in 1912, has died in Newport aged 107 - just two weeks before her 108th birthday.

Lillian Grace Handley (nee Lovell) was born near Mountain Ash on July 27, 1912 when the prime minister was HH Asquith and George V - the current Queen’s grandfather - was on the throne.

Her mother had lost two cousins on the Titanic when it sank in April the same year.

Lillian, who was the eldest of four, was related to the founder of Lovells sweet factory in Newport.

South Wales Argus:

Lillian Handley aged 19 in 1931

She lived through more than 20 prime ministers and four different monarchs.

She left school aged about 12 and she went in to service to train to be a cook. She had to give that up as the heat from the ovens made her legs swell, so she moved to a farm where she then worked in the milking parlour.


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She married William Alfred Handley, known as Alf, in 1934 and the couple went on to have two daughters, Marina and Sylvia.

The couple moved to Green Street, Chepstow when Alf took the job as coalman for the Co-op. He wanted to join the navy but his was a reserved occupation, so he spent the war in the Chepstow home guard.

The family later moved to Usk and eventually Ponthir.

South Wales Argus:

Lillian Handley in her later years

In 1968 Mr Handley died and Lillian had to go out to work for the first time. A friend got her a job as a cleaner at the Star brickworks in the village. She retired from that job when she was 60.

It was then she found a love of travelling. She first went to the Dutch bulb fields on a coach trip - a trip she and her husband had planned on doing before he died.

South Wales Argus:

Lillian Handley celebrating her 100th birthday in 2012 with the then Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Newport Cllr Cliff and Christine Suller

After that she went on many trips with Saga, including to the Holy land.

She moved to St Mary's Court in Newport in 1985 when the flats were new. She continued to live there until her death on July 16.

Her daughters, Marina and Sylvia, said even though Lillian was blind for the last 20 years of her life she was very independent and cooked for herself everyday before taking a walk.

They said she never drank or smoked but enjoyed a full life.

She leaves her two daughters, Marina Hart (85), who lives in Newport, and Sylvia Davies (79), of Porthcawl, two grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Her funeral took place in Newport on August 5.