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Hinton St George: The Somerset village where life goes on (and on)

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: April 24, 2012

  • Hinton St George resident Robert Heelis, 80

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People who want to get the most out of a long life should move to a sleepy hamlet in Somerset.

Male residents in the small Somerset village of Hinton St George have the highest life expectancy in the UK – at 88.7 years.

Women aged 65 living in Hinton St George are expected to reach 91.6 years old and male 65-year-old residents are expected to reach 88.7 years old.

Hinton St George – population of just 400 – came top of the long-life best place to live league in a study by the actuarial firm Towers Watson.

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The study was based on mortality rates among 1.5 million retired people across the UK in 51 final pension schemes.

Matthew Fletcher, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, said: “Where people live can be a powerful predictor of how long they will live.

“Of course, this does not mean that a man could extend his life by four years simply by moving from Merseyside to Somerset.

“Instead, a pensioner’s address provides clues to other things linked to life expectancy, like their lifestyle and how much money they have from sources besides their pension.”

Towers Watson analysed the addresses of the 180,000 people who died among the 1.5 million private-sector pension scheme members it studied between 2006 and 2011.

The actuaries then worked out the life expectancy for people living in clusters of postcodes with similar characteristics.

They then deduced what the life expectancy of 1,446 towns and villages across the UK might be by comparing social characteristics with those of different postcodes.

But the geographical location of towns or villages does not necessarily explain why there are different death rates among the retired.

Other factors that play a big part in longevity include previous occupation, wealth and income during retirement and social class.

Keith Hurse, sub-postmaster of the village Post Office in Hinton St George, agrees.

He said: “The strange thing is, about 80 per cent of the people here come from the south east of England.

“Many of the retired are former barristers, school teachers and former members of the clergy.

“It is a lovely place to live, there is a society for everything, a group of us here took over the village shop and Post Office last July.

“It is a very busy community but there is not the stress and pollution here – it is a very stress-free environment.

“The village has an award-winning gastro pub and even has an almshouse providing accommodation for the elderly.”

Women have typically always lived longer than men, but for the first time since records began, newborn baby boys can expect to live longer than newborn girls.

The forecast, by a population projection advisor to the Office of National Statistics, predicts that men who reach 30 in 2030 will live longer than women of a similar age.

This change is thought to be because men are abandoning bad habits such as smoking or heavy drinking, in favour of healthier activities.

But it's grim up north...

Residents of Hinton St George are expected to live on average almost four years longer than the place with the lowest life expectancy – Bootle in Merseyside. In Bootle, life expectancy for male pensioners was 84.9 years, and 89 years for women.

Other locations where residents live longer include Aldeburgh in Suffolk, Frinton-on-Sea in Essex, Seaview in the Isle of Wight and Ferndown in Dorset.

The list of towns with the shortest life expectancy is dominated by places in Scotland and Northern Ireland, including Castlederg, Strabane, Belfast, Saltcoats, Londonderry and Prestonpans.

Salford is the only other English location apart from Bootle among the 15 worst places for life expectancy.

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