Grand Gladys dies at 103

BRIXINGTON'S grand little lady , Gladys Long, has died just weeks before her 104th birthday. Gladys Margaret Long, who lived on her own in St John s Road for 44 years, died in her sleep in hospital, following a stroke, writes David Beasley.

BRIXINGTON'S 'grand little lady', Gladys Long, has died just weeks before her 104th birthday.

Gladys Margaret Long, who lived on her own in St John's Road for 44 years, died in her sleep in hospital, following a stroke, writes David Beasley.

Born in Withycombe Lodge on April 12, 1906, to Charles and Lillian - who had married in Knowle Village's Ebenezer Baptist Chapel in 1904 - she was the youngest of four children.

Sadly, however, she was the last of her siblings as Winifred died in 1943 and Dot in 1994, while George was killed on duty fire watching in Exeter during the blitz in 1942.

In 1926, at the age of 20, Gladys joined Exeter bespoke tailor William Perriam, as an apprentice, working there for 40 years until 1966.

That same year, her mother died. Nephew John Walker said: "Aunty devoted her time to looking after her mother until the joy of children (grand children of her siblings) came along. And I am sure they helped keep her young.

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"She'd tell them stories of sheltering under the stairs from enemy aircraft, teasing the sailors at the dockyard gates on visits to Plymouth, swimming in Exmouth docks - stories she told my girls that I had never heard."

After her mother died in 1966, Gladys lived on her own at her St John's Road home. Looked after by carers, friends and family, she still had an active social life.

"Every week, we used to take her out to Exmouth seafront to the Bath House for fish and chips and a large glass of sherry," said John. "And she really liked the Bamboo Restaurant.

"She loved her garden and she was a lovely lady with a wicked sense of humour... always laughing and joking, even when advancing years affected her mobility and clouded her sight.

"Next door neighbours, who kept a watching eye and always willing to help, and, latterly, all the carers, who day by day visited and chatted, let this grand little lady stay home, which meant so much to her. Thank you to all."

Gladys' funeral was held at St John in the Wilderness Church.