Hundreds pay last respects to Britain’s oldest man

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The voices of Belper’s Dalesmen Male Voice Choir soared as mourners waited to say their last ‘goodbye’ to Britain’s oldest man.

The choir performed some Reg Dean’s favourite songs to a packed church at the funeral of the 110-year-old who passed away earlier this month.

The former teacher at the Herbert Strutt School, who had founded the Dalesmen during the 1980s, died at his home in Waltham House, Wirksworth.

And during a service on Wednesday, January 23, the aisles of St Mary’s Church, Wirksworth, were filled with family and friends who had gathered to celebrate his life.

His son, Chris Dean, addressed the congregation, saying: “The word that keeps coming to mind about my father since he passed away is ‘remarkable’. He was a remarkable man.

“Remarkable for his life – he was 110 years old and 63 days. Remarkable for what he achieved.

“He was a man with a great sense of humour. On his 110th birthday he was surrounded by reporters and cameras.

“One unfortunate reporter said ‘I hear you are 110’ and he said ‘don’t blame me, it’s not my fault’.”

As the former oldest man in Britain, Reg had lived through 24 prime ministers, five monarchs and two world wars.

Chris remarked that his father could remember the first cross channel flight and the sinking of the Titanic.

The 62–year–old, who leads the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, played Ave Maria on the trombone in tribute to his father – himself a lover of music, having co–founded the Dalesman Male Voice Choir.

Reg studied theology at Canterbury in the 1920s and was ordained at Lichfield.

Among his many roles, Reg had been an Army chaplain in Burma, as well as an English teacher at Herbert Strutt School, in Belper.

Reg was particularly proud that he had co–founded Traidcraft, in Wirksworth, now called Traid Links.

He loved art and poetry. The centenarian had planned his own funeral and one of his favourite poems, ‘Afterwards’, by Thomas Hardy, read in his memory.