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Great-gran, 99, is UK's oldest to survive coronavirus after 'miracle' recovery

A great-grandmother approaching her hundredth birthday is believed to be the oldest person in the UK to recover from coronavirus.

Rita Reynolds, 99, fell ill last Wednesday, March 25 and after she tested positive for Covid-19, her family were told to expect the worst as her condition deteriorated.

End of life drugs were ordered and Mrs Reynolds – who survived the blitz – was kept comfortable by staff at her care home, Abbeyfield, in Bramhall, Stockport.

But against all expectation, the former Women’s Air Force driver fought back – a ‘miracle recovery’ her family have put down to her love of marmalade sandwiches. Yesterday district nurses said she had recovered and was on the mend.



Mrs Reynolds’ proud grandson Henry Phillips joked that her incredible recovery was thanks to her diet of ‘marmalade sandwiches and biscuits’ – her favourite foods.

Mrs Reynolds, who survived The Blitz by hiding under the kitchen table reading a book, is now looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday in July.

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Henry, 37, an accountant, said: ‘I was certain that was it for her.

‘When you hear everything you hear about coronavirus, and a 99-year-old gets it – she’s 99 so obviously she’s frail – I didn’t think there was any way she would recover from it.

‘But she seems to have done it.’

The account added jokingly: ‘I don’t know how she got through it. I don’t think she has ever eaten a vegetable or fruit.

‘She lives on marmalade sandwiches and biscuits, but she’s had a terrible diet her entire life. She’s always just eaten chocolates and biscuits.



‘But she’s never smoked or really drank.’

He continued: ‘At the home they always ask her what she wants to eat and joke that they don’t know why they ask her – every day she only ever wants marmalade sandwiches.

‘Biscuits, cakes and marmalade sandwiches – that’s probably what got her through it.’

Mrs Reynolds, who was born in the Isle of Man married her late husband Ralph, a scientist, and they had three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She was a driver during the war, and survived a bomb which landed outside her home in Liverpool, aged 21, when she hid under the table, after refusing to get in the air raid shelter because she wanted to read her book.



Vigilant care home staff originally called in the doctor after Rita struggled to breathe, and she didn’t feel like eating or getting out of bed.

Her recovery follows that of great-grandfather and World War Two hero Jack Bowden, 98, who beat Covid-19 last week. 

Henry’s mum Cindy Phillips, who visited her own mother daily, maintained a bedside vigil and was told to expect the worst.

Henry added: ‘She wasn’t doing very well. They got the end of life medication prescribed for her, although she didn’t ever take it.

‘Mum was devastated. She goes to see her every single day. My mum was worried about her dying and not being able to be with her at that time.’

But on Sunday, care home staff reported that she was improving – and able to eat something, and by Wednesday reports they were confident she was going to recover.

Henry concluded: ‘I don’t think they will re-test as I don’t suppose there is any point, but it looks like she has made a miracle recovery.

‘The district nurses have come in and said as far as they are concerned, she has recovered from it. She’s up and eating and seems fine.’

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