Town mourns loss of Britain’s oldest man
Britain’s oldest man and former Belper teacher, Reg Dean, has died at the age of 110.
The well-known supercentenarian who taught at the former Herbert Strutt School on Derby Road passed away peacefully at a nursing home in Wirksworth where he had lived for the past seven years.
In Belper he is also well-known for founding the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir, who started practising at the Strutt school when it became a community centre.
At the end of 2011, Reg told the Belper News his health was so good he was planning to live until at least 112.
However, an infection had left him largely bed-ridden in recent months and eventually claimed his life.
John Parker, concert secretary for the Dalesman Male Voice Choir, said: “He enjoyed his life and could always have a positive outlook on things.
“He regularly used to attend our practices during the summer months and he always had words for us afterwards.
“He was genuinely so well liked, nobody seemed to have anything untoward to say about him.
“He was just such a positive person. He was frail, but at 110, he was entitled to be and saying that, he still had this wonderful twinkle in his eye - it was always there.
“He was a lovely, lovely man and was everybody’s friend.”
Born in Tunstall, Staffordshire, in 1902, Reg has survived two world wars and lived under 26 British Prime Ministers.
He is almost as old as Real Madrid and Norwich City football clubs, which were both founded in 1902.
Reg, who has a 62-year-old son called Chris, and two grandchildren, became a church minister and then served as an army chaplain in Burma during World War Two. After the war he lived in Stratford-on-Avon, before moving to Derby in 1947.
He became a teacher at Herbert Strutt School in 1958, where he stayed for ten years.
Retiring from his job as a minister at the age of 80 he had served at the United Reformed Churches in Wirksworth and Matlock.
At the time of his death he was the sixth oldest British man ever, as well as the second-oldest living man in Europe, and the last surviving British man born in 1902.
Mr Dean’s son, Christopher Dean, said his father had told him he had no fear at the prospect of dying.
He said: “He told me he wasn’t at all scared.
“He said to me once, ‘I am living under a sentence of death - but I intend to take a long time about it’.”
Mr Dean received seven telegrams from the Queen and could even remember being told the Titanic had sunk.
He once said his longevity was down to a ‘mysterious brown-looking’ elixir of life given to him by a doctor when he was an army chaplain in India. He also thought that “being lazy” had helped prolong his life and had been a vegetarian for more than 30 years.
Mr Dean had been living for some years at Waltham House, which is an extra care scheme for older people run by Housing 21.
He died aged 110 years and 63 days.
The oldest man in the world is Jiroemon Kimura of Japan, aged 115 years.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 10 C
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Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
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Wind direction: North