UK Woman, Possibly Oldest with Down Syndrome, Celebrates 75th Birday

August 2, 2016 3:47 pm Last Updated: August 2, 2016 4:20 pm

Frances Gillett, who has been described as the oldest woman in the world with Down syndrome, celebrated her 75th birthday this week.

Gillett, born in England in 1941, has also battled tuberculosis and breast cancer. She celebrated her milestone birthday on Sunday, July 31, MailOnline reported.

She had lived with her parents in Soham, England, for most of her life before moving to a residential home in Ely, Cambridgeshire, about 20 years ago.

“Frances is really and truly amazing, and over the years she has become more than a resident, she is like family,” Wayne Bent, a co-owner of her care home, told the paper.

In February 2016, the world’s oldest living man with Down syndrome celebrated his 76th birthday. Kenny Cridge also lives in the United Kingdom, residing at a care home in Somerset, England, the BBC noted.

Both Cridge and Gillett were born at a time when life expectancy for people suffering from Down syndrome was dramatically lower than it is now. 

“Years ago there was zero expectancy for someone with Down’s syndrome to live such a long life, so for her to celebrate her 75th birthday is wonderful,” Bent told the Mail.

Speaking to the Ely Standard, Bent said her birthday was “an absolutely fantastic day.” He said, “”She had a wonderful time. The first person she saw when she walked through the door was the Ely Standard photographer, so he got a big hug and a kiss.”

“She got quite a few presents, which she will save for opening until her actual birthday,” he added.

There is some dispute as to who exactly is the oldest person with Down syndrome. In July 2014, Oklahoma woman Dollie Grissom turned 74, and at the time, local media outlets dubbed her the world’s oldest woman with Down syndrome.

In 2012, an 83-year-old man with Down syndrome from Minnesota, Bert Holbrook, died in the town of Waseca. Staff members at his care home had submitted Holbrook’s name and age to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008, according to the Mankato Free Press.