'Oldest man in Britain' celebrates 109th birthday

A former church minister believed to be the oldest man in the UK is celebrating his 109th birthday.

Reg Dean, from Wirksworth in Derbyshire, has lived through two world wars and 24 British prime ministers.

Mr Dean, who has held the unofficial title since last year, marked his birthday by throwing a party for members of a choir he set up in 1987.

He said he was still in "very good health" and was already looking forward to his 110th celebrations.

Mr Dean has been widely acknowledged as Britain's oldest man since the death of 110-year-old Stanley Lucas, from Cornwall, in June 2010.

Born in Tunstall, Staffordshire, on 4 November 1902, he has lived in Derbyshire since 1947.

He was stationed in Burma as an army chaplain during World War II and continued to work as a minister until his retirement at the age of 80.

'Fantastic life'

He also spent 10 years working as a teacher and has been married three times.

Huge changes during his life include the invention of planes, the moon landings and the rise of computers.

Image caption Mr Dean served as an army chaplain during World War II

One of Mr Dean's biggest passions was setting up the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir 24 years ago and he still attends every meeting as president of the group.

To celebrate his latest landmark, Mr Dean took 125 choir members for a meal at a restaurant in Ashbourne.

He said: "I've had a fantastic life. Too fantastic to even describe.

"I'll be here next year and the year after that. Maybe even the one after that - you never know."

Dalesmen chairman John England said: "He hardly ever misses a rehearsal and it's a pleasure to have him.

"He always comes along with a few anecdotes, criticisms and witticisms.

"We have plans for his 110th birthday next year - that'll be a really big one. But I think at this age, every day is a bonus for Reg."

Guinness World Records said it would be interested in hearing from Mr Dean to verify his status as the UK's oldest man.

However, he is still several years behind the holder of the title of oldest living male in the world. Japan's Jiroemon Kimura celebrated his 114th birthday earlier this year.

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