Secret to Topsy’s 103 years? A lifetime without a television

Gertrude 'Topsy' Hindley who recently celebrated her 103rd birthday has lived her life without a tel

Gertrude 'Topsy' Hindley who recently celebrated her 103rd birthday has lived her life without a television. Ref shs 8215-22-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

A lifelong shun of television means a 103-year-old Sidmouth woman has missed out on some of the world’s most historic moments.

Scenes of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, the assassination of John F Kennedy, the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attacks have all passed by Gertrude ‘Topsy’ Hindley.

Her nephew, Richard Hindley, claims his aunt has been unaware of the world for the last 20 years.

He credits her lack of television for her longevity.

Richard said: “She’s never really been aware of what’s going on in the world. I think that’s a reason why she’s lived so long. She’s not been worried about the news because she’s never had a television.

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“She did know about big events when she was younger - it is really the last 20 years she might not. She hasn’t taken such an interest in current affairs as people do.

“I’m not sure about recent events like the Royal Wedding and 9/11. She had a transistor radio in her bedroom, but used it for local radio.”

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Topsy’s dislike of the gogglebox has topped Pope Francis - this week the pontiff revealed he has not watched television for 25 years.

Richard said his aunt, who recently moved from Milford Avenue to Arcot House Residential Home, in Arcot Gardens, had been content to listen to nature programmes and the news on the radio when her father, Charles, was alive.

Topsy set up the Sidmouth District Animal Welfare, which later became ARC Animal Rescue Centre.

She said caring for the animals left little time for watching television.

The only time she has watched the box was during visits to friends.

Topsy said: “I never had one. I used to go round and care for older people and I do not think any of them were without a TV - they all had one - so I got to watch it whether I wanted to or not.

“All my friends have them, so everywhere I go I watched it, but I didn’t want it. I just want peace.”

Richard added: “She would go round to her friends and watch nature programmes, mostly the David Attenborough programmes that would be the only thing she would watch.

“She was content with her own company.”

Topsy this week celebrated her 103rd birthday with family and friends.

Her father Charles lived to be 100.

“When he retired, his doctor advised him to move to Sidmouth for his health. Well, the doctor got it right!,” added Richard.

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