Yorkshire family send love to the oldest woman in Commonwealth
A YORKSHIRE family was celebrating today after a grandmother celebrated her 116th birthday with a telegram from the Queen.
Masima Leonora Noel, inset, born in 1901, is believed to be the oldest person alive in the British Commonwealth and fourtholdest woman in the world.
Her granddaughter Maureen Pope, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, said: “She is amazing. We are witnessing something extraordinary.”
Mrs Noel lives on Carriacou, an island of Grenada in the Caribbean, and is a great-great-grandmother to six children.
Her daughter Olga Pope, also of Huddersfield, said: “We are sending our love and birthday wishes and we are very pleased that the Queen is sending her special greeting.” “We want to tell her how proud we are that she has reached this age. She is doing well and we love her very much.” Mrs Noel lives in a simple wooden house she shares with an 85-year-old daughter on Carriacou, a tiny island, and she is the oldest person in Grenada, where neighbours help to look after her. The family sends gifts from Yorkshire but the long journey rules out a birthday trip for widow Olga Pope, 81, who said: “I went to visit a few months ago. I will be thinking of her on her birthday, as I do every day. She is very special. She is a lovely mother and she has had an amazing life.”
Mrs Noel as a child walked for more than an hour to and from school on dusty tracks. She had daily tasks at home: corn to grind by hand, animals to feed and “sky water” to collect when it rained.
She later crushed stones for road building to provide her family livelihood. She built her first home of straw and palm leaves. She worked as a maid, grew ground nuts, peas and potatoes and sold on other islands.
Only three women throughout the world are older than her: two in Japan and one in Spain.
Violet Brown from Jamaica was the oldest in the Commonwealth until her death in September at 117.