Isobel Varley
Septuagenarian Isobel Varley poses during 'II Expotatoo' tattoo fair in Gijon, northern Spain, May 15, 2009.REUTERS/Eloy Alonso (SPAIN SOCIETY)

The work's most tattooed female pensioner, Isobel Varley, has died following a battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Varley, who died on Monday (11 May) aged 77, had covered 93% of her body with designs.

Despite only having her first tattoo in her late 40s, she went on to claim the Guinness World Record award for "most tattooed senior citizen (female)" and appeared in magazines, newspapers and advertisements across the globe.

"Originally, I was only ever going to have one - a small bird - but I fell in love with it, and developed an addiction," she said.

"The only areas not completely tattooed are my face, the soles of my feet, my ears and some areas on my hands."

Her husband Malcolm, who lives in the Stevenage bungalow they shared, told the Hertfordshire Mercury that his wife would be remembered for her laugh and her good nature as well as her striking body art.

"If you look on Facebook I understand someone says she was a legend of tattooing, that's how people will remember her, others will remember her because of her laugh," he said.

'Iconic figure'

The Guinness World Records issued an online statement commemorating "an iconic figure within the body modification community," posting a video that showed Varley in 1999, when 72% of her body was covered in tattoos.

Varley, who is also survived by a son, Stephen, told the BBC in 2008: "I went to a tattoo convention and had one tattoo - and then it just went from there.

"This came about as I was so impressed by the sheer beauty of the tattoos and I found that the people there were ordinary people from all walks of life and were not strange."

If you're going to have one done, you've got to think about it carefully because it's going to last a very long time so you've got to be sure it's what you want," she cautioned.