- Full name: Ethel May Caterham (née Collins)
- Lifespan: 21.08.1909
- Age: 114 years
- Birthplace: Shipton Bellinger, Hampshire, England, UK
- Last residence: Ash Vale, Surrey, England, UK
- Application date: 29.02.2020
- Validation date: 28.01.2023
- Validation source: Oliver Trim/Waclaw Jan Kroczek
Ethel Caterham, born on August 21, 1909, in Shipton Bellinger, Hampshire, England, and raised in Tidworth, Wiltshire, was the second-youngest of eight siblings. Notably, one of her sisters, Gladys Babilas (1897–2002), lived to be 104. In 1927, at the age of 18, Ethel embarked on a journey to India, working as a nanny for a British family. Her solo voyage to India by ship lasted three weeks, and she spent three years there before returning to England.
In 1931, Ethel Caterham met her future husband, Norman (1905–1976), a major in the British Army, at a dinner party. Their love story culminated in marriage at Salisbury Cathedral, where Norman had been a choirboy. They initially lived in Harnham, England, before being stationed in Hong Kong and Gibraltar.
During her time in Hong Kong, Ethel Caterham established a nursery for local and British children, where she taught English, games, and crafts. In Gibraltar, she and her husband started a family, ultimately raising two daughters in the UK. Sadly, Norman passed away in 1976.
In her later life, Ethel Caterham has resided in Surrey, England, for over five decades. Remarkably, she continued to drive until she was 97 years old and remained an avid bridge player well into her centenarian years. Currently, she resides in a care home in Ash Vale, Surrey.
In 2020, at the age of 110, Ethel Caterham contracted COVID-19 during the global coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, she made a successful recovery, becoming one of the oldest known survivors of the disease.
To celebrate her 111th birthday in August 2020, Ethel Caterham enjoyed a tea party and had a special visit from the Mayor of Surrey Heath. A week before this milestone, she and her granddaughter were interviewed on BBC Radio Surrey, providing a glimpse into her remarkable life and experiences.
Ethel Caterham’s remarkable journey in terms of age-related milestones is as follows:
- Following the passing of 109-year-old Kay Hurley on January 17, 2019, Ethel Caterham became the oldest known living person in Surrey.
- After the death of 112-year-old Mollie Walker on January 22, 2022, Ethel Caterham became the oldest known living person in the United Kingdom.
- In August 2022, Ethel Caterham celebrated her 113th birthday, marking her as the first person in the United Kingdom to achieve this age since Olive Boar in 2017.
- On September 8, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Caterham became one of only two people in the United Kingdom to have been a subject during the reigns of both Edward VII and Charles III. After Rose Eaton’s passing on October 7, 2022, Caterham became the last living person in the United Kingdom born in the 1900s decade and the last surviving British subject of Edward VII.
- After Lucile Randon’s death on January 17, 2023, Ethel Caterham became the second-oldest known (validated) living person in Europe, with Maria Branyas Morera of Spain holding the top spot. She is also the oldest known (validated) living person born in Europe.
- Following the passing of Ada Thompson on March 13, 2023, Ethel Caterham became the last known surviving British person born before 1911.
- With the death of Nina Willis of the USA on May 17, 2023, Caterham entered the top 10 list of the oldest validated living people worldwide.
In August 2023, Ethel Caterham celebrated her 114th birthday, becoming the first person in the United Kingdom to reach this age since Ethel Lang in 2014 and the first British-born person to do so since Phyllis Ridgway of Canada in 2021.
- Doyenne of the United Kingdom (22.01.2022 – present)
The case of Ethel Caterham was verified by Oliver Trim and Waclaw Jan Kroczek, and validated by the GRG as of Jan. 28, 2023.
Ethel Caterham on her 106th birthday in 2015, with the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Councillor Joanne Potter
Ethel Caterham on her 109th birthday in 2018, with the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Councillor Dan Adams
Ethel Caterham celebrating her 111th birthday in 2020.
Ethel Caterham celebrating her 112th birthday in 2022.
Ethel Caterham celebrating her 111th birthday in 2020
Ethel Caterham celebrating her 114th birthday in 2023.
Ethel Caterham in her supercentenarian years.