9:52am Thursday 12th August 2010
By Kirsty Whalley
Croydon’s oldest smoker has died at the age of 102.
Winnie Langley, who took her first puff aged eight after the First World War broke out, smoked more than 170,000 cigarettes in her lifetime.
She died on July 27, just one month short of her 103rd birthday.
Members of her surviving family attended a funeral service at Croydon Crematorium on Tuesday afternoon.
The great-great grandmother who loved a good party, outlived her husband, son and all of her 10 step-children.
She was born in Croydon in 1907 as one of seven children and was very close to her sisters Ivy and Floss. She had a number of jobs, including working in a laundry and as a chamber maid.
She met her husband Bob, a world war veteran 28 years her senior, in a pub in Croydon. Then a single mum to Donald, she moved into his home as a governess to look after his 10 children.
The couple married when she was 26.
Family member Anne Gibbs gave a moving tribute to her great aunt.
She said: “She loved Monopoly and cards and she always had ciggies on the back step. Auntie Winn got cancer when she was 88 but she bounced back. She had a pacemaker fitted when she was 98.
“She smoked until Christmas last year. She only gave up because she could not see the end of the match to light it. She was fiesty and stubborn and she also had a wonderful sense of humour. She was a voracious reader and loved crosswords and puzzles.”
Mrs Gibb broke down in tears as she said: “We love you Auntie Winn and we will never forget you.”
The New Addington resident had to cut down from her five-a-day habit to just one cigarette last year because of the credit crunch.
She told the Croydon Guardian: “The price keeps going up, so I’ve cut down to one a day. I am not that well. My eyesight is very bad and I have to get someone to buy them.”
The former laundrette worker, who voted at the last election, said she never worried about her health because she did not inhale.
She said cigarettes helped calm her nerves during the two world wars.
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