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BIOGRAPHY

Theresa Ryan was born in Floriana, Port Region, Malta, on 2 June 1914. While in Malta, she worked as a housekeeper for a naval captain.

In 1938, she married George Ryan, an Irish Fusilier. They later had a daughter, Margaret Symons. The two remained in contact through letters when her husband was taken as a prisoner of war during World War II. She moved to the United Kingdom around 1940. She worked as a seamstress, and later, in various roles in London and Plymouth. Before retiring at age 60, she worked in a clothing factory and as a playground assistant.

After her husband passed away, she moved to Plymouth to be closer to her daughter, Margaret, and later transitioned to the care home. Her daughter attributed her mother’s longevity to luck, a Mediterranean diet, hard work, and a cheerful temperament. Likewise, Ryan credited her long and happy life to kindness, enjoying chocolate, hard work, and the occasional whisky or Baileys. Her grandson, Ross, believes her love for Quavers and chocolate has contributed to her longevity.

At the age of 107, she had three grandchildren.

RECOGNITION

On 9 April 2023, following the passing of 108-year-old Barbara Winsor of Totnes, she became the oldest (known) living person in Devon.

In June 2024, she celebrated her 110th birthday, becoming the second Maltese-born supercentenarian, after Maria Farrugia.

Her age was verified by Dr. Andrew Holmes, and validated by the European Supercentenarian Organisation (ESO) on 23 June 2024, becoming the second validated Maltese-born supercentenarian.

ATTRIBUTION

* “Special Plymouth woman wants you to send her 106th birthday cards” – Plymouth Live, 17 May 2020

* “Plymouth grandmother celebrates 107th birthday” – The Devon Daily, 3 June 2021

* “Plymouth woman becomes the oldest person in Devon” – Plymouth Live, 4 June 2023

* “Celebrations for woman’s 110th birthday” – BBC, May 2024

GALLERY

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