THE nephew of Britain’s oldest person has spoken about his aunt’s independent spirit and hospitable nature.

Joan Hocquard, who lives in Lilliput, Poole, is the oldest person in Britain at 112-years-old.

She has lived in Poole for many years, moving to Lilliput from Canford Cliffs after her husband’s death in 1981.

Joan’s nephew, Paul, 74, said: “She has always had an independent spirit and it was typical of her that on her hundredth birthday she refused a card from the queen because she did not want people to know how old she was.

“On the day Joan was born, King Edward VIII was having lunch with a French count near Biarritz and the Kaiser of Germany and his wife were on a tour of Venice.

“Joan’s father was a British colonial officer in charge at that time of shipping on the Great Lakes in East Africa and as a young girl Joan sailed out to Kenya to live in the town of Kisumu on Lake Victoria. Her brother was born there in 1913.”

Paul said Joan often stayed in Lymington with her grandmother and learned to sail on the Solent. She attended a boarding school in Sussex and worked in a French hotel near Geneva, becoming an expert cook.

He continued: “She returned to England just before the war and then met her husband Gilbert Hocquard, who had tied his boat up to hers.

“She was an ambulance driver in London at the start of the war, but later she and her husband moved to the south coast near Eastbourne.

“After the war, in their yacht Peregrine, which is still sailing, they would sail for much of the summer, to France, the Channel Islands and Scotland. They also had a camper van and travelled across the continent for weeks at a time. During this period, they moved to Canford Cliffs to be near Buckler’s Hard where they kept their boat.

“When Gilbert died, Joan moved to a flat in Lilliput. In 1987, she met a widower Kenneth Bedford at the Bournemouth Gramophone Society and they have shared their lives together ever since.

“Joan and Ken now receive full-time care at home.

Speaking about Joan’s personality, Paul said: “Joan is one of the most hospitable people imaginable. She loved having guests for a meal and to stay. She said she had no secret to her long life. She just kept going, rarely seeing a doctor, following no diet and eating what she wanted.

“She has always sought to live life to the full.”