ENGLAND’S “oldest village” where the average life expectancy is 95 for women and 86 for men has been revealed.
One 102-year-old swears her nightly tipple of rosé keeps her going, while others reckon plain tap water is the key to Detling villagers’ longevity.
Ivy Watson celebrated her 100th birthday with cards from around the world in DetlingCredit: SWNS
Life’s a breeze in Detling, KentCredit: Alamy
But aside from the booze and water, the locals agree on one thing: keeping busy is key to living a lengthy and relatively healthy life, despite the killer Covid pandemic.
That belief has certainly worked for sprightly Irene Nobbs, who recently celebrated her 102nd birthday with a pirate-themed event, two years after having her last rites read to her by a mournful priest in hospital.
The ex-hairdresser advised a Sunday Times reporter that a “busy life” and a “glass of rosé every night before bed” has helped her clock up the years.
However, Margaret Cooke, a youthful 89 years old by comparison, agrees with her son, who attributes the spike in longevity to plain tap water: “We’ve got a good reservoir a few hundred feet away from where I live, and it’s filtered through all the chalk.”
The Times, which hails Detling as “the village ageing forgot”, explains that in rural Kent, women live to a grand old age of 95 on average, and men until the age of 86.
Located near Maidstone, the ward of Detling and Thurnham enjoys the greatest life expectancy in England, and well above the national average of 83, it adds.
At the other end of the ageing spectrum, in Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham – one of Britain’s most deprived wards – women live to 72 on average, and men until they are 67.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently recorded about 15,000 centenarians across the UK.
Cooke is a wise sage who has a couple of easy recommendations for Brits hoping to also notch up many birthdays: “Always try to be busy. My motto is… if an opportunity comes up, take it.”
Yet it’s not just the wine, spring water and busy lifestyle keeping the 800-strong village going… and going.
Canine companions feature strongly among those “too busy to feel old” in Detling.
Pauline Senior, 82, is adamant her 13-year-old Jack Russell, Candy, has helped keep her young: “We all have dogs here, they do keep us active.”
Always try to be busy. My motto is… if an opportunity comes up, take it.
Margaret Cooke, 89
Down-to-earth fellow villager David Humfrey, 87, veers away from the life-extending pooch angle, though.
A good old-fashioned gin and tonic has apparently kept him going for nearly nine decades.
And dashing about in a 1928 Bentley has also helped, the Spitfire fan added.
Keeping a beady eye on Humfrey and other villagers are eight local doctors who, unlike some other pockets of England, are holding face-to-face appointments.
Veena Raleigh, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund healthcare think tank, said the location – and chalk-filtered spring water – wasn’t the secret to Detling villagers’ longevity.
Raleigh said it was “to do with the people themselves and their histories and habits”.
In 2020, life expectancy fell by 1.2 years in men and 0.9 in women, which “took us back to 2010 levels”, the expert added.