WEST DORSET: One of the oldest set of sisters in the country has died at the aged of 109.
Hilda Greening died just after her younger sister Eugenie, known as Jean, Underwood from Charmouth celebrated her 107th birthday and the youngest, Mary Hunt, made 100.
Three years ago the trio of sisters were making a bid to get into the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest trio of sisters in the country with a then combined age of 308 – when Mrs Greening died their combined age was 316.
Mrs Underwood celebrated her 107th birthday in June at the Bymead House Nursing Home in Charmouth, where she has lived for seven years.
Mrs Underwood's daughter Janet Cowburn from Bridport said her mum was now 107 and wasn’t really aware that her older sister had died. She said the record attempt was dropped after her mum’s health deteriorated.
“My auntie was 109 when she died. I did tell my mum, who is now 107 and bedridden but I don’t think it has sunk in.
“The youngest sister is now in hospital having been diagnosed with bowel cancer – she was 100 in April.
“It is hard to know why they’ve lived so long – it must have been a good life I suppose.
“I think they’ve enjoyed their lives until the last few years. My auntie didn’t want to live any longer. But she was with it up until the end. They saw so many changes.
“When they were small and when they first got married money was tight and they had to be careful. They often used to say everything was a lot easier now.”
Mrs Underwood has been living at Bymead for seven years after suffering a stroke.
At the last count the trio of sisters had 12 children, 17 grandchildren, and 29 great grandchildren.
The sisters are the daughters of farm labourer Harry Wasley and wife Julia and they grew up in a one-bedroom cottage in Gloucestershire.
The sisters all left school in their early teens to go into service and Mrs Underwood was a housemaid in London before meeting husband Arthur, marrying him in 1940. Mrs Underwood joined the Land Army during the Second World War, but Mrs Cowburn said her mother spoke very little of her past.
The couple worked in stately homes and previously lived in Queen Camel, Somerset, before coming to Dorset to live and work, where Mr Underwood worked as a groom and Mrs Underwood as a housemaid on the Crutchley Estate in Nettlecombe.
The couple moved into the village when they retired. Mr Underwood died in 1970.
Mrs Underwood moved to sheltered accommodation in North Allington in the late 1990s before moving into Bymead.
The sisters have lived through two world wars, seen off 19 prime ministers and the reign of five monarchs.
Mrs Greening lived in a nursing home in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and Mrs Hunt lives in Twyning, Gloucestershire.