A grandparent is set to become the oldest person in Britain to undergo a sex change.

Former RAF officer Ruth Rose, from St Martin’s Crescent, Newhaven, is due to undergo the £13,500 NHS operation next year, aged 80.

She yesterday said how she had wanted to be a woman since the age of nine.

Miss Rose, who was born James in 1933, said: “Everyone in Newhaven has been so kind to me. You hear about people being horrible, but I have only had one bad experience.”

Miss Rose, who turns 79 next week, said: “A man in a shop called me ‘this man’, but that was it. Apart from that I’ve had a very positive experience.

“Neighbours and friends have all accepted me and been really welcoming.”

At the moment Miss Rose, who divorced in 2003 after 42 years of marriage and has a son and two daughters, is having NHS-prescribed hormone therapy.

She said that, following her operation, she did not want a sex life, just to look more like a woman.

She added: “I do not want a sex life as a woman or a man. I have a wonderful social life.

“I do not have a partner and I am not looking for one. But there is a lot to do,” she said.

“I have to change the deeds of my house into my name and change my bank accounts into my name.”

Describing her style as “classic”, Miss Rose said: “I don’t wear much make-up, just a bit of eyeliner and occasionally blusher.”

Explaining how she picked her name, she said: “I just always imagined myself as a Ruth.”

But yesterday the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “With NHS money tight, it’s hard to square this spending with the elderly being made to wait for hip operations.”

Charing Cross Hospital, where Miss Rose will have the operation, said it couldn’t comment on individual cases.