The family of an 87-year-old woman rescued by firefighters from her home after a fall have paid tribute to their much-loved great-grandmother who has passed away.

Maria Middleton had been in hospital for more than a month after an incident where she fell down stairs at her Hillcross Avenue home in Morden at the end of March.

Her close-knit family who are proud of their Italian roots have paid tribute to Mrs Middleton who made many friends in hospital with her sense of humour and high spirits.

The Italian great-grandmother moved to the UK with her late British husband Fred, whom she met when he served in Italy in the Second World War.

Her grandson Jon Watson, who lives in Lower Morden Lane, Morden, said: "We are going to miss her accent and the smell of her Italian cooking.

"Our family is very proud of its Italian connection and that we have her blood in our veins.

"She was an incredibly brave woman, very strong and determined."

Mr Watson said for her age his grandmother was very independent and had a healthy, Mediterranean diet.

Mrs Middleton had been taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting by ambulance on Friday, March 28 after falling down the stairs of her home.

She had become stuck in the banister and lay there all night until the alarm was raised.

After a few weeks at St George’s, she was later moved to St Helier Hospital where she died on Sunday, April 27 surrounded by family who had been keeping a bedside vigil.

Mrs Middleton’s funeral will be held at 10.30am at the St John Fisher Church in Cannon Hill Lane, Wimbledon, on Friday, May 9.