The village where women live with the highest life expectancy in England of 95

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In the district of Detling and Thurnham, near Maidstone, women have an average life expectancy of 95, 12 years higher than the national average of 83.

The village has the longest life expectancy in England and banned indoor smoking five years before the nationwide ban went into effect in 2007.

On the slope of the North Downs, along the historic Pilgrim’s Way, lies the village of Detling, with a population of 800.

Among the 800 residents are some of the oldest people in the country, including Irene Nobbs who turned 102 in April.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 15,000 centenarians in the UK, and two of them reside in Barty House retirement home in Detling.

Irene, who is a retired hairdresser said the temperature that a good, full life is the secret of its longevity, plus “a glass of rosé every night before bed”.

Detling (pictured) in Kent has the longest life expectancy in England and banned indoor smoking five years before the nationwide ban came into effect in 2007

There are many theories as to why life expectancy is so high in Detling, from the quality of tap water to the hilly terrain.

Resident Margaret Cooke, 89, believes the covered reservoir near the village may be a contributing factor.

It’s only a few hundred yards away and “it’s filtered through all the chalk,” she told The Times.

It is not only Detling’s proximity to fresh water that the village has in its favor.

The local GP office has eight doctors, or one doctor for every 100 residents, and accepts face-to-face appointments at a time when in-person consultations are difficult to obtain.

Health has always been at the forefront of the village agenda, the removal of the ban on smoking inside pubs and workplaces, five years before the national ban was applied.

To better understand why life expectancy is so high in Detling, it is worth looking at areas with low life expectancy.

Bloomfield in Blackpool, for example, has an average life expectancy of 73 for women and just 67 for men.

Detling's GP practice has eight doctors, or one doctor for every 100 residents, and accepts face-to-face appointments at a time when in-person consultations are difficult to obtain.

Detling’s GP practice has eight doctors, or one doctor for every 100 residents, and accepts face-to-face appointments at a time when in-person consultations are difficult to obtain.

This means that the people of Detling can expect to live two decades longer than those who live in Bloomfield.

The seaside town has long been low on most life expectancy lists, with many pointing to Blackpool’s economic woes as a possible cause.

A 2013 Guardian profile revealed that more than half of Bloomfield’s population smokes, including one in three pregnant women.

The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment Blackpool (JSNA) found that 20% of deaths among women were due to respiratory disease in the poorest areas of Blackpool between 2015 and 2017.

According to Veena Raleigh, a senior member of the King’s Fund’s healthcare think tank, Detling, while not particularly wealthy, has low levels of deprivation.

She told The Times: “Very often people living in disadvantaged areas have a set of adverse risk factors that weigh on their health, such as obesity, smoking and poverty.”

The solution, however, isn’t to pack your bags and move to Detling in search of a longer life.

Raleigh says, “It doesn’t work that way. It’s more to do with the people themselves and their stories and habits.

Detling has a very strong community spirit that really showed during the pandemic, the local council organized tours for residents struggling with their mental health, and the neighbors enjoyed the competition of daily exercise routines.

With the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us, Detling residents young and old have been able to enjoy the many amenities the village has to offer.

As for Irene, she is aiming for her 103rd birthday, where she hopes everyone will join in and sing along to the late great Vera Lynn.


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