A widow who was determined to continue living at home died four days after her 104th birthday after falling down the stairs.

An inquest into the death of Phyllis Blyth, of Great Yarmouth, heard that the retired housewife had lived in her home on South Beach Parade with her late husband, Henry, since 1952. 

Known affectionally as “Harry”, he was a Second World War veteran and became a meat buyer for Birdseye after the war. 

The couple had married in St Nicholas Parish Church in the town in January 1940 and went on to have five children together. He died of stomach cancer in 1980 aged just 59. 

Eastern Daily Press: St Nicholas Parish Church in Great YarmouthSt Nicholas Parish Church in Great Yarmouth (Image: Submitted)

The court heard in a statement from their son, Terry Blyth, that Mrs Blyth was determined to remain in her house. 

It read: "She was a strong and independent person who was determined to live her life by her rules. We respected her wishes, even if we did not always agree with them. 

“She said she was determined to die in her home.” 

A former fire officer, he added that his mother would walk up and down the stairs “several times a day” but noted she had become unsteady on her feet earlier in the day of her fall on Sunday, January 22, 2023. 

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At around 8pm on that day, her neighbours had heard her fall down the stairs and call out.

They were able to communicate with her through the letterbox and encouraged her to press the button of an alarm she kept around her neck.  

The alarm company alerted her sons, who arrived shortly after and gained entry into her home. They found her lying at the bottom of the stairs.  

Once paramedics arrived, they were able to get her into an ambulance to take her to the James Paget hospital in Gorleston. 

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In a statement from her other son, Jack Blyth, of Lowestoft, it read: “Until recently, she was in good form. 

“She was still visiting the town centre once a week, doing her own cooking and cleaning, and this past Christmas she stayed with me and my family.  

“She was very independent and insisted on staying in her own home which was her pride and joy.”

The court also heard how various members of her family would visit her most days. 

Mrs Blyth died on Saturday, January 28 at hospital – less than a week after her fall and four days after her 104th birthday. 

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk Coroner's CourtNorfolk Coroner's Court

The inquest into her death, at Norfolk Coroner’s Court, heard that the medical cause of death was hospital-acquired pneumonia, multiple fractures after falling down stairs, combined with the frailty of old age. 

She sustained a number of injuries including broken ribs and pelvis, a bruised lung, and a head injury. 

Assistant coroner Johanna Thompson concluded her death was due to an accident. 

Her grandchildren paid tribute to her via the website Much Loved. 

A tribute from David, Camilla, Alicia, Isabelle, and Isak, read: “A very special nan became a very special great nan to our family despite the distance that separated us.  

“We’ll miss her greatly but will cherish all the memories and laughter we had with her over so many years.” 

While Sarah, Martin, Amber, and Ollie, added: “In loving memory of a dear nanny, who we love with all of our hearts.  

“We miss her hugely, and feel honoured to be part of her family, we have many very happy memories which we hold dear.” 

Her funeral took place on Friday, February 24 at the Gorleston Crematorium. Donations were raised for the British Heart Foundation.