Britain’s oldest woman

According to The Independent on Sunday (01/04/07) I discover that Britain’s oldest woman, Florrie Baldwin aged 111, is a longstanding resident of my hometown of Pudsey in Yorkshire. The residential care home where she lives is  a couple of hundred yards only from the house I spent my teenage years in. Coincidentally it is also as close to the children’s home which originated the icon of the BBC Children in Need Appeal, Pudsey Bear. Formerly an industrial market town of woollen mills, tanneries and engineering works Pudsey was notable for its numerous pubs and almost equally plentiful non-conformist chapels. Before Pudsey Bear’s rise to fame obscured the town itself, Yorkshire people, at least,  knew it as the spiritual home of Yorkshire cricket. The Borough of Pudsey counted amongst its sons Len Hutton and Ray Illingworth. Since the loss of its Borough status in the 1970s local government reorganisation, and the closure of its mills and workshops Pudsey has become a residential dormitory to the mighty Leeds. And its once bustling town centre is now a sad collection of betting shops and estate agents.

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