Monday, 8 December 2008

Britain's oldest worker dies at 105

Gardener Jim Webber, from Stoke Abbot, Dorset, died at the Broadwindsor House care home near Beaminster. He would have celebrated his 106th birthday on Christmas Eve.

Mr Webber worked the land in Dorset for 93 years without any holidays but was forced to down tools in the spring of last year due to arthritis.

He used to charge £2 an hour but was forced to put his prices up to £3 for his work at a local pub because of the rising cost of petrol for his lawnmower.

His daughter, Kathy Webber, who lives in the family home and cared for her father, told the Western Morning News: "It was his love of being outside that kept him going so long, I think.

"When he was 104 and the autumn came, he stopped because it was getting cold and damp."

Born on Christmas Eve 1902, Mr Webber began his career as a carter before he became a farm labourer in Stoke Abbot in 1933. He took over the lease of the farm where he worked in 1944 until his first retirement in 1975.

Rather than settle down for a quiet life, Mr Webber, whose wife Dorothy died aged 95 in 2001, set about gardening along with his brother Jack until he died at the age of 95 in July last year.

Mr Webber carried on mowing lawns, trimming hedges and gardening for village residents and also mowed the lawn of the local pub, the New Inn. But it proved too much for him and he officially retired, for the second time, in the spring of 2007.

The funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Stoke Abbot, at 2pm on Wednesday, followed by a private burial when bells will be rung in honour of the former bell-ringer.

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