She has lived through two world wars, has seen three kings and one queen on the throne and is currently witness to one of the biggest global pandemics.

But Gladys Cloke, who celebrated her 109th birthday recently and is thought to be Shropshire’s oldest person, is still going strong.


Gladys, who moved to Shropshire from Kent in 2000, celebrated her big day with a traditional tea party at Chilcott Gardens sheltered complex in Madeley where she has lived for the past 18 years.

Although not the same grand family affair as in years gone by due to visiting restrictions, staff from Coverage Care Services, who look after residents at the complex, made sure it was a day to remember.

Manager Carol McPherson said: “Gladys had a lovely day celebrating her birthday. She had a visit from her daughter-in-law the day before which was very emotional and then staff held a fantastic tea party for her in the afternoon with cake and flowers. Her family would have stayed to join in the celebrations but current restrictions on visiting has made this a bit tricky this year.

“Still, Gladys received lots of cards and gifts and staff made sure she was treated like a queen for the afternoon. She’s such a wonderful lady. We all think she is going to be here forever.”

Daughter-in-law Sandra Cloke added: “Gladys is so well loved by all her family and we’ve all made a real fuss of her. She’s lived such a varied life and loves to tell us stories about when she was young. She won’t have it that she’s 109 though, she says she’s only 99.”

Gladys worked in a munition’s factory during the Second World War and spent time in domestic service.

She was married to John for 53 years before his death in 1990, at the age of 75. They met in a shoe factory just before the outbreak of the war.

After the war she left work to focus on bringing up their son, Roy.

Today, she has a number of grandchildren, more than 20 great-grandchildren and some great-great grandchildren.

Speaking ahead of her birthday party, Gladys said she was excited about afternoon tea in the garden.
When asked what the secret was to a long and happy life, she added: “A cappuccino at 11am every day and a Digestive biscuit.”

It’s thought Gladys is the oldest living person in Shropshire although she is still some years off Joan Hocquard, who is 112 and thought to be the UK’s oldest living person.

Coverage Care Services is Shropshire’s largest independent care provider and operates 14 homes across the county.

Homes continue to have strict safety measures in place to prevent and limit the spread of any infection and staff continue to be able to access supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Homes are also still accepting new admissions and referrals but under strict new guidelines.