A FORMER Burton Mail delivery girl who can remember the sinking of the Titanic is now the oldest person in the country.
Great-grandmother Elsie Steele, who is 111 and 246 days old, took over the mantle after Scot Annie Turnbull passed away, three weeks shy of her 112th birthday.
Elsie was born on January 6, 1899, and is 60 days older than the second oldest person in the UK, Margaret Fish.
Elsie lives at The Dales residential home, in Fisher Close, Repton.
During a life which has spanned three centuries, the ‘supercentenarian’ has lived through historical events that included Queen Victoria’s funeral in 1901, the sinking of the Titanic and the First and Second World Wars.
She has lived during the reigns of six monarchs and the terms of 21 prime ministers.
She told the Mail on her 111th birthday: “I remember the German planes coming and I’d run and tell everyone to stay in the bomb shelter.
“I’d run and tell them not to come out.” Elsie started her working life delivering the Mail at the age of nine, collecting newspapers from the office in Swadlincote and delivering them to homes in Midway.
She then went to work as a housemaid in Leicester and, after marrying her first husband, Reg, moved to Oxford Street, in Church Gresley, and took a job in the munitions factory in Burton Road, Branston.
Elsie, who later married her second husband, Wallace, after Reg’s death became known as ‘Mrs Eccles Cakes’ after her cakes and pastries became renowned as the best in the area.
The most memorable moment of her life was when Princess Diana visited Swadlincote in 1991, an experience the pensioner recalled with fondness.
She said: “We were very good friends.
“She had two boys so she told me everything they did – and you know what little boys are like. She was a really good person and I do miss her.” Elsie claims her secret to a long life is working hard when she was younger, as well as walking and an occasional glass of sherry.
* The oldest person in the world is Eugenie Blanchard, who lives in France, and is 114 and 206 days old.