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Farewell to Elsie

PUBLISHED: 18:20 03 February 2002 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 March 2010

GREAT grandmother Elsie Briggs survived two World Wars … and was one of the very few people in the world to have seen three centuries go by.

But as tributes were today being paid to the 105-year-old, who is believed to have been the oldest person in Ipswich, it was revealed that at the age of 103 she had to endure a terrifying ordeal.

GREAT grandmother Elsie Briggs survived two World Wars … and was one of the very few people in the world to have seen three centuries go by.

But as tributes were today being paid to the 105-year-old, who is believed to have been the oldest person in Ipswich, it was revealed that at the age of 103 she had to endure a terrifying ordeal.

For two men burst into her home, near the centre of the town, and ransacked through her house.

She had to watch on as her beloved terraced home, which was still lit with gas lamps and with only an outside toilet, was raided before her eyes.

"Apparently she tried to knock on the wall with her stick and they pushed her back in the chair and told her to shut up," said neighbour Terence Smy, 46.

"I think it's absolutely disgusting how anybody could do that. For somebody to have lived through two World Wars and seen so many changes and to end up with somebody trying to do that to you, it's unbelievable."

He added: "She was very strong willed and independent and wanted to stay that way. She never let it upset her.

"She was quite incredible. She never had a television in her life, she just had her radio. I think you will find that upstairs she still had her original gaslights."

Mrs Briggs, an Ipswich resident for nearly 35 years, and who also lived in Harkstead and Woolverstone, died in Ipswich Hospital last Sunday following a fall at home.

She leaves behind her children Arthur, Elsie and Ivy, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

According to a police report at the time of the burglary, Mrs Briggs, then aged 103, was sitting quietly at home alone when she was disturbed by a knock at the rear window.

The intruders forced the back door and searched the downstairs room. When she tried to get up out of her chair she was shouted at and told to stay sitting down. Eventually the pair fled without taking anything.

Despite police appeals through the media no one was caught for the burglary, which occurred on December 11, 1999.

Always a colourful character Mrs Briggs made the headlines back in 1998 when she visited a supermarket for the first time – aged 102.

She told The Evening Star how she had always bought her groceries from the nearby Co-op but was very impressed with the bright lights and huge variety of goods on offer at Sainsbury's, in Heath Road, Ipswich.

Her funeral will take place at Ipswich Crematorium, West Chapel, on Wednesday, February 13, at 2pm.

Flowers may be sent to Co-operative Chapel of Rest, Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich, 1P4 4QE.

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