TWO of the region's oldest people have died within two days of each other.

Rose Prior, who lived in a residential home in Middlesbrough, and Mary Dowse, from Middleton One Row, near Darlington, were both 104 years old.

Miss Prior, a former teacher, died peacefully in the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, yesterday.

She had been living at Nazareth House residential home, Middlesbrough, since 1993. Miss Prior taught for 40 years at St Augustine's School, in Darlington, and was an enthusiastic member of St Thomas Aquinas' Church.

After she retired in 1960, she was one of the first volunteers at the Mayor's charity shop in Darlington, where she worked until 1993.

Miss Prior, the youngest of 13 children, was descended from an Irish family who came over to work on the Stockton and Darlington railway.

Relatives from New Zealand and Ireland helped her celebrate her 103rd birthday at the home last year, when she had a birthday cake and champagne.

At the time she said: "When you get to my age, there is no better place than this home. I have no grumbles about anything."

Her death came two days after that of great great grandmother Mrs Dowse.

A Requiem Mass for Mrs Dowse will be held in St Augustine's Church, Darlington, at 10am on Thursday, followed by interment in the town's West Cemetery.