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300 remember Britain's oldest man

Hundreds of people have packed a church to celebrate the life of Britain's oldest man, who died aged 110.

Extra seats were laid out as around 300 people turned out in snowy and cold conditions to attend the funeral of Reg Dean at St Mary's Church in the picturesque village of Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Mr Dean, a former minister, died earlier this month at the grand old age of 110 years and 63 days. He became Britain's oldest man in June 2010 after the death of Stanley Lucas, aged 110, of Cornwall.

Mr Dean's son Christopher said his father had only ever wanted to help others and make a difference to their lives. Mr Dean was heavily involved in charity work throughout his life and completed a sponsored walk from Nottingham to Derby at the age of 90.

Giving a tribute to his father in church, Mr Dean's son told the congregation the word that came to mind when he thought of his father was "remarkable".

Describing the many messages and phone calls he has had since his father's death, he said: "I've had to tell them he was a remarkable man. Remarkable for his life - 110 and 63 days, the 63 days are very important - and remarkable for what he achieved. He did a great deal for many people. He was a man with a great sense of humour.

Mr Dean also described how his father received his 10th telegram from the State on his last birthday and said, to a hearty laugh from the congregation, his response was to comment: "They know I'm dying but they think I'm taking too long about it."

Mr Dean said his father remembered the first car coming into his local village, the first cross-Channel flight and the Titanic sinking.

He credited his long life not only with his strong faith and vegetarian lifestyle, but with an elixir given to him while he was a minister in India. He said: "Of course it was in India where the famous elixir came into being. He met a doctor and he offered him hospitality, so this doctor in return said, 'I've got this muddy water here and it's an elixir of life'. Dad said, 'Being naïve I decided that I would drink it anyway', so he drank it.

"He said that he would live to 100 without any illness. We all know now he was wrong, he made 110."

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