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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 01:00 GMT
Women bid for 'oldest' title

Agnes Kinnear Agnes Kinnear celebrates a milestone birthday

Three Scottish centenarians are bidding for the title of the world's oldest living person.

After the death of a 117-year-old woman in Philadelphia two days before the start of the new century, the Guinness Book of Records bestowed the title on Margaret McHowat, 107, from Brechin.

Sarah Knauss Sarah Knauss: Died just before New Year
Mrs McHowat was born on 4 December, 1892, and is said by the publication to be the oldest person in the world who can produce records to authenticate her age.

A hospital near Dundee says widow Agnes Kinnear, who remembers shaking hands with Queen Victoria, has celebrated her 108th birthday.

'Send in records'

Hospital staff say Mrs Kinnear was born on 5 November 1891, a date supported by their own records.

A spokeswoman for the Guinness publication said: "If they send in records, we will study them.

I remember shaking hands with Queen Victoria when I was just nine years old
Agnes Kinnear
"It could well be a new record, but we need to see her birth certificate."

Mrs Kinnear, who has no children, has been in the Ashludie hospital in Monifieth, near Dundee, since the late 1980s.

Hospital staff said she was born in Glasgow but spent most of her adult life in the Angus area where she worked as a domestic in a country house and her husband was a landscape gardener.

Recalling the past

In a recent interview she said: "More than anything else, I remember shaking hands with Queen Victoria when I was just nine years old.

"I also remember an employer of mine getting one of the first cars ever seen in Scotland."

Staff Nurse Norma Jarvie said: "She gets on very well with the other ladies, and she is quite aware of what is going on.

"Sometimes, if we have the time to sit down, we have a good chat, especially with the young students and she will tell them about her past, where she lived, and her parents.

"She is quite alert most of the time, and today she is being interviewed by a TV religious affairs programme about changes to women over the century."

Third contender

Enter title contender number three - Jane Redpath, who celebrated her 110th birthday in March last year.

Her niece, Eleanor Stewart of Gavington near Duns in the Scottish Borders says her aunt Jane Redpath is undoubtedly the oldest woman in the world.

The hunt by Guinness Book of Records researchers for even older people is continuing

They are trying to track down a 118-year-old woman in Poland and a 111-year-old man in Oregon, USA, but emphasise they need undisputed proof.

The hunt began after the death of 119-year-old American Sarah Knauss, two days short of seeing her third century.
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See also:
31 Dec 99 |  Americas
World's oldest person misses millennium
18 Apr 98 |  Americas
Don't worry - be happy (and 117)
18 Jun 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Is this the world's oldest man?

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