A British woman who has celebrated her 81st birthday is believed to be the oldest person in the world with Down’s Syndrome.
Julia Pittaway defied the odds after doctors told her parents she was unlikely to live past the age of 20 when she was born on December 1, 1935.
When her parents, Caroline-Maud Pittaway and husband Harry passed away in the 1970s, Julia was looked after by other family members.
Niece Jennifer Parsons, 69, and her husband John, 73, lived with Julia before she moved into a care home in Mablethorpe, Lincs., three years ago.
John, a retired silver polisher, said: “Julia has always had a very loving family around her and they have always taken the time with her, which helps an enormous amount.
“But what we learnt very quickly with Julia is that the secret is her routine.
“What we would find quite boring, she relies on. So every day she gets up at the same time and goes to bed at the same time.
“But most important is her soaps. She can tell the time of day by them.
“As soon as Coronation Street comes on she knows it’s time for a Mars bar, and by the time the Mars bar is finished she knows it’s time for bed.
“She knows all the characters and it keeps her happy every day.”
Jennifer, a former printing press operator, was brought up with Julia as a child.
She said: “We all lived in a big house in Birmingham together with her parents and my parents.
“I remember being told that her dad was told not to grow too attached to her because she wouldn’t make it past 20.
“I don’t think the doctors took much notice of her, they just didn’t expect her to live very long.
“Her parents owned a car garage nearby and from the age of ten or so her dad would drop her at a special centre during the day.
“She was very happy with that and never had any problems.
“She’s such a cheerful person she always got on with everyone.
“After her parents died I looked after her, because I’ve always been brought up as a sister to her.
“We promised her she would always live with family and I think that’s been the key.
“She coped with losing her parents very well, and her sister Aggie died in the 1970s too.
“Occasionally if we talk about them she gets confused and says: ‘I know them,’ but most the time she’s fine.
“She loves the care home too, she always says: ‘My friends are there’, when we visit.
“Julia has always kept active, playing games and knitting, and I think that’s really helped her.”
*Previously the oldest person in the world with Down’s Syndrome was Bert Holbrook, from Minnesota, who died aged 83 in 2012.