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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
'Oldest woman' in UK dies at 111
A 111-year-old woman, believed to have been the oldest person in the UK, has died, her MP David Amess announced on Tuesday.

Florence Reeves, was born on 17 February 1894, and until last May lived alone in a bungalow in Kingswood Chase, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Since then she had lived in a local nursing home, where she died.

She had been widowed for about 30 years. During World War I she was a senior civil servant in the War Office.

She was as sharp as a tack, and a very special lady
Councillor Fay Evans

She had worked on Morse code which was used for transmitting classified material.

The news of Mrs Reeves's death came only a few hours after the announcement of the death of Dutchwoman Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, aged 115, who was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "oldest person".

Mr Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, said: "She was very active until a few months ago. She had been a keen supporter of the Suffragettes, and was against the postal vote.

Civil servant

"She voted in every single election and voted for me in person at the last election, and regularly went to church. "

Councillor Fay Evans, a Conservative member of Southend Council, who was Mrs Reeves' closest friend during the last years of her life, said: "I have cried and cried since Sunday.

"She was as sharp as a tack, and a very special lady. Her sight and her hearing were limited, but her brain power was undiminished.

"During the last two or three years I used to communicate with her through a piece of A4 paper and a big black marker pen. She was a very articulate lady and we used to have lovely conversations like that."

She added: "During the First World War she was a top civil servant, dealing with Morse code. She would be given German messages that had been intercepted and would decode them."


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