Messages were still appearing yesterday on the Twitter feed of IvyBean104 – but only to relay the news that the woman reputed to be the world’s oldest twitterer had died.
Ivy Bean, who grew up in the days when the fastest means of long-distance communication were the telegram and the carrier pigeon, took to the new technology two years ago, at the age of 102.
She started on Facebook, and soon had the maximum 5,000 friends. She accumulated another 25,000 pending friend requests from others, before switching to Twitter because she found it easier and there was no limit on friend numbers.
She collected 57,129 followers, whom she regaled daily with good humoured messages about what she had had for lunch or what she was watching on television, or how she was enjoying sitting out in the sun.
During her two-year reign as the dowager of social media, she was invited to 10 Downing Street by Gordon Brown, after which she tweeted that she had used the Prime Minister’s private toilet.
But a little over two weeks ago, her account was taken over by Pat Wright, manager of Hillside Manor care home in Bradford, where Ms Bean spent her last days. Her first message warned: “I’m just letting everybody know Ivy’s not well – I will keep you all informed of her progress daily.”
On subsequent days, her followers were informed that she had been taken to hospital with yellow jaundice, that she was back home at Hillside Manor but still unwell; that she was “very poorly” and in pain. Then finally came the message: “Ivy passed away peacefully at 12.08 this morning.”
One of her most dedicated followers was Peter Andre, the singer, who met her last year. He phoned her for the last time a few hours before she died. Her other fans included Stephen Fry, the comedian, Ashton Kutcher, the American actor, Chris Evans, the radio presenter, and Sarah Brown.
Ms Bean was born in 1905, the middle child of a family of four boys and four girls. She left school at 14 to work in a mill. During the Second World War she married an army cook, Harold Bean, who was serving with the Royal Army Service Corps.
When the war was over, they went into service for the Guinness family at their seat in Northampton, where he worked as a cook and butler and she was a housekeeper. She retired just over 30 years ago, at the age of 73, a few years after her husband Harold died, aged 75. Ms Bean moved into the Hillside Manor care home when she was 101, after her previous care home closed down.
More at: The Independent