IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Angela, 107, ‘is Britain’s oldest virus survivor’

Family tell of ‘huge relief’ after being warned care home resident - who lived through 1918 pandemic and two world wars - was unlikely to beat Covid-19 infection

14 August, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Coronavirus survivor Angela Hutor raises a glass on her 107th birthday

A PENSIONER who is believed to be Britain’s oldest coronavirus survivor celebrated her 107th birthday this week.

Angela Hutor has lived through the influenza pandemic of 1918 and both world wars, but her carers believed she was at death’s door early in May after she contracted Covid-19.

Her daughter Pauline Hutor, of Mercers Road, Tufnell Park, was called in to see her at the Little Sisters of the Poor care home to say her final goodbyes.

Pauline told the Tribune: “I was told it could be any minute. Considering Mum’s age I had kind of prepared for it, but when I saw her she looked terrible – she was white as a sheet.

“Then virtually the next day she started rallying round. I was getting updates and then on VE Day she was up with a glass of wine, waving a little flag.

Ms Hutor blows out candles on her birthday cake this week

“It goes without saying, it was a huge relief and quite miraculous really, that a woman of that age could survive it and not be hospitalised. What could you do but almost jump for joy?”

At her worst, Angela was on and off an oxygen tank, eating nothing and barely drinking.

But three months later, she was sitting in the sunshine with a glass of champagne in her hand and a slice of cake celebrating her birthday as the oldest known survivor of the virus in the UK.

Connie Titchen, from Birmingham, was believed to be the oldest person in the country to have survived coronavirus when she was clapped out of hospital in April. But she was born a month after Angela.

Asked for the secret of a long life, Angela told the Tribune: “Count your blessings. That’s important. And a fresh orange every day – cut into quarters, not juiced.”

Angela’s parents are Italian but she grew up in Cannes, France.

She remembers, aged four, seeing men being carried by stretchers onto beaches near her home as wounded First World War soldiers were brought to recover there.

Ms Hutor recovered in time to join in with the recent VE Day celebrations from her bed

And she recalled the “dreadful” time when the last major pandemic struck Europe – the 1918-19 so-called Spannish Flu which killed between 20 and 50 million people, many of them soldiers who had just survived the war.

She said: “We just went on as usual. People went to work and carried on as best they could. Not like today. We just carried on. No masks.”

When she was eight her father, who had been working at the Hyde Park Hotel, brought her to London and she was put into a convent boarding school.

One of her most vivid memories is of the Jarrow marchers, who walked from northern England to London during the Great Depression of the 1930s to lodge a protest.

Angela said: “I thought, I must go and see them. They looked haggard, totally dejected, but also dignified. They walked in really calmly.”

She was not allowed to help with the national effort during the Second World War because as an Italian national without a British passport she was an “enemy alien”.

Angela had to report to the police if she changed address.

Ms Hutor pictured during her younger days

“They all treated me with courtesy, I used to think that is the English way,” she said.

Angela met her husband Paul and they married when she was 36. They bought a house in Mercers Road in the 1950s because she thought Tufnell Park was an up-and-coming area.

At 39 she gave birth to Pauline and squeezed motherhood in around an array of jobs, including being a shorthand typist, receptionist, governess and nightclub florist.

Paul passed away in the late 90s and Angela lived independently until she was well into her 90s. She came to live at Little Sisters of the Poor, in Stoke Newington, run by a group of nuns, in 2019 where her Catholic faith has become an important part of her life.

Pauline said: “The coronavirus period was very difficult but everyone at the home was fantastic. The love and care she got was so apparent. I used to come and see her most days but then there was only Whats­App for months.

“Finally the government lifted restrictions in July and I could come in and see her in the garden here. I still can’t believe it really, she is sitting here and looks the way she does, all calm and collected. I can’t say how thrilled I am. The relief.”

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