A mischievous twinkle in Reg Dean’s eye indicates this soon to be 110-year-old still knows how to have fun.
Now the oldest man in Britain, the former minister of the United Reformed churches in Matlock and Wirksworth, is due to celebrate his birthday on Sunday.
Born in Staffordshire in 1902, Reg still loves to spin a yarn or two about the amazing life he has lead.
“I’m lucky to be here,” he said.
“When I was a chaplain in Burma I remember there was shell fire many times – I think they were trying to get me.”
Reg, who now lives in Waltham House, in Wirksworth, jokes that part of the reason for his long life may be down to a mysterious brown drink he was given by a doctor while he lived in Bombay.
“He said ‘if you drink this you will live forever’ – and this is the result,” he recalled.
One of Reg’s favourite stories is from when he lived in Bombay and was saved from death by his faithful pet dog.
“He went into the kitchen and pulled at the trousers of the servant,” Reg – pictured right aged 40 – remembered.
“He was so insistent that the servant followed him and he led him to my bed.”
Reg had accidently overdosed on some medication after becoming ill.
“When I awoke the doctor was there and he told me if I had been left another half an hour I would have died,” Reg continued.
He has had a lifelong love of music, having sung in the Bombay Light Opera Company as a younger man.
Reg is still a member of the Dalesman Male Voice Choir, which is holding a birthday celebration in his honour at the Derby Assembly Rooms on Saturday. His love of music rubbed off on his son, Chris, who leads the Syd Lawrence Orchestra.
He has a passion for animals, which has led him to become a vegetarian. “I don’t like all animals mind,” Reg said. “I don’t like scorpions.”