Tributes to ‘feisty and wonderful’ Bessie who’s died aged 105
Tributes have been paid to a “feisty and wonderful” woman who has died at the grand old age of 105.
Bessie Hughes was born at the height of the First World War and lived all her life in Brymbo, near Wrexham, before moving to Pendine Park’s Hillbury care home in the town when she was 101.
She passed away peacefully at Wrexham Maelor Hospital on Saturday, following a brief illness. The funeral arrangements are not yet known.
Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton said: “Bessie was an incredibly popular resident and we are all devastated to lose her.
“It was an absolute privilege to be able to provide care for her in her twilight years.
“Bessie reached the momentous milestone of her 105th birthday in August and it is remarkable to think what she lived through.
“She was alive during two World Wars and lived through the Spanish Flu and was successfully jabbed against Covid.
“Our thoughts are with Bessie’s family and we extend our deepest condolences to them.
“I will always remember her as a wonderful and feisty lady and we will miss her deeply.”
Bessie was born during the First World War and was 23 years old when the Second World War began in 1939.
She emerged unscathed during the Spanish Flu pandemic as an infant and was vaccinated for Covid-19 as a centenarian.
Family members attributed Bessie’s long life to the healthy lifestyle she had led.
Her 85-year-old nephew Tony Williams, who regularly travelled from Brymbo to visit Bessie at the home until restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic, said: “The reason she was able to celebrate her 105th birthday was that she has always looked after herself.
“My aunt did a lot of dancing and she always went for a walk every day.
“She did her own shopping and always cooked herself a proper meal until she had a fall and moved to Hillbury in 2018.”
A former housewife, Bessie, had been widowed for more than 40 years from her late husband, Raymond, who worked as a crane driver at Brymbo Steelworks.
The couple had no children, but Bessie enjoyed a close relationship with her seven nieces and nephews and their families.
“I rang the home every week to see how Bessie was getting on and I’d then speak to relatives who live in different parts of the country and relay the information to them,” said Tony.
“I was very impressed with the way she is looked after at Hillbury House.
“The staff are always friendly there and I am very grateful for what they did for her.”
Bessie had become accustomed to celebrating landmark birthdays.
She was still living at home in Brymbo when she turned 100 in 2016, when well-wishers sending her cards included her favourite author, Jeffrey Archer.
Reaching the century was made extra-special by a visit by acclaimed Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, known for his role as Gio Compario in the GoCompare TV adverts.
“Wynne was a very nice man,” recalled Tony, who lived a short distance from Bessie’s then-home in Brymbo.
“I think when he arrived, he was expecting to come across a frail old lady. But instead he found my aunt to be fit and well.
“He interviewed her for Radio Wales and she clearly enjoyed it all.”
A committed Christian and former chapel organist, Bessie continues to say The Lord’s Prayer every day.
She was previously a member of organisations including Brymbo WI and Brymbo Luncheon Club.
Care practitioner Rowena Roberts also paid tribute to Bessie.
She said: “It was a fantastic achievement for Bessie to celebrate her 105th birthday.
“She was very popular with residents and staff alike and she loved having her hair done. Bessie was very much part of the family here at Hillbury and I feel honoured to have known and looked after such a remarkable lady.”
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