“TREAT every moment as though it was your last”
If ever there was an inspirational motto it is that of former church minister Rev Reg Dean - thought to be the oldest man in Britain and an amazing 109 tomorrow.
He has packed in a staggering list of achievements and remains incredibly healthy with a lust for life far younger than his years.
Birthday celebrations have so far included a party with the Dalesman Male Voice Choir he formed, and still leads, while he is nominated to carry the Olympic flame before the London 2012 games.
“I don’t feel 109, I feel sometimes I may be 110 or 111 and other times 108”, joked grandad Reg, who lives at Waltham House, Wirksworth.
“I think it’s amazing but then it’s not surprising, I’m in very good health. I believe I must have a guardian angel.
“I’ve made so many mistakes, I have done so many foolish things, but at the end they’ve all been put right.”
Reg was born on November 4 1902, in Staffordshire. He volunteered as an army chaplain in Burma during the Second World War and has been married three times.
He moved to Wirksworth in 1969, has seen 24 prime ministers and almost unimaginable changes to technology and the way we live.
He added: “I remember before the days of tarmac, the roads were all dust heaps. I can remember hearing about the sinking of the Titanic when I was at my uncle’s farm.”
Although still involved with the Rotary and Wirksworth’s St Mary’s Church, Reg’s secret to a long life is a mysterious answer from his days in India when a doctor visited.
“He said to me I have concocted a drink that will make you live forever, or something like that, and would I like to take it?”
“Well I’m very naive, I can’t say no, so I drank it and here I am... It has nothing to do with the drink!”
Nine cards from the Queen - and one adapted with a stuck-on 109 - line charming Reg’s home along with photographs and his own paintings.
His birthday will continue with afternoon tea at Waltham House and watching the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, directed by son Christopher, 60.
But he is already looking forward to a “stupendous” 110th birthday. Is there anything left to achieve?
He said: “I’d like to meet Nelson Mandela and I’d like to live to 120.”