Notts man with Down's syndrome celebrates 77th birthday - despite not being expected to live past the age of ten

George Wildgust, whose family believe he is the oldest person in the UK with Down's syndrome, has said dancing keeps him young, after celebrating his 77th birthday.
George Wildgust, whose family believe he is the oldest person in the UK with Down's syndrome, has said dancing keeps him young, after celebrating his 77th birthday.

A Nottinghamshire man with Down's syndrome who was never expected to live beyond the age of ten has defied the odds to celebrate his 77th birthday.

Georgie Wildgust credits a healthy social life and a love of dancing with reaching his ripe old age despite doctors fearing he would never see his teenage years.

George with his niece Nikki Wright and support worker Karren Beeley.

George with his niece Nikki Wright and support worker Karren Beeley.

The sprightly pensioner is now believed to be one of the oldest people in the world with Down's syndrome and the oldest in the country.

READ MORE: Police concerned for safety of missing Kirkby man

Mr Wildgust celebrated the milestone last month surrounded by family and friends at Watcombe Circus care home in Carrington, Nottingham.

He moved to the specialist home in 1993 following his mother's death and has lived there ever since with 12 other residents.

George, left, with his brother Colin, right.

George, left, with his brother Colin, right.

Niece Nikki Wright, 44, from East Leake, who visits him every week, said: "We're all very proud of him.

"Its amazing for him to get to this age, my grandma was told he would not live past ten-years-old because of his Downs Syndrome. But they were wrong. Look at him now.

"Its probably because he has such a lovely childhood with my grandma and granddad and when he came into the home as well he really was looked after.

"He still is and they spoil him rotten. He is really happy here and is surrounded by 12 other residents who are around the same age.

"He was always told by his mum that he can do anything and because of that, he has always been very independent.

"My grandma was a dress maker and granddad worked down the pit. They lived together in Nottingham and the kids always went out to play in the middle of the square.

"Nobody picked on him, they all took him under their wing and looked after him. It was one big happy community who looked out for each other. So he's always been very sociable.

"Back then doctors just wrote people off who had Downs Syndrome as they weren't classed as 'normal'. Some were sent off to asylums in padded cells I believe.

"It was awful really but Georgie has always had a strong network of family and friends around him and that's why he's done so well.

"He doesn't like being told what to do really but I do think that is why he has reached 77."

Mr Wildgust was one of three children and was born at home in the Cinderhill area of Nottingham on August 16, 1942 to parents Hilda and Abraham.

His younger brother, Colin, 71, died three years ago but younger sister Jean Yessyan, 79, still keeps in touch with him via Skype in Australia.

Mr Wildgust worked as a gardener and rug maker before retiring and now spends his days at the care home enjoying his favourite past-times.

READ MORE: Mansfield to experience 'very warm' weather this weekend

Nikki, a post office worker, added: "He likes going out for dinner, colouring books and especially dancing.

"It keeps him young and he loves watching Strictly Come Dancing on a Saturday.

"He also enjoys going to the sea-side and having fish and chips and ice cream. Every week we Skype each other and have a chat with my sister who lives in Australia.

"I think being kept busy and socialising here has really helped him. The staff are amazing and it is such a family here.

"He's got a girlfriend Lorraine but she just moved out and I think he misses her a bit. But she still comes to visit him and they chat on Skype as well.

"The staff here realise the importance of these friendships and it keeps them all going."

People with Downs Syndrome are expected to live to their 50s these days but the life expectancy was much lower during the 1940s.

A Down's Syndrome Association spokesperson said: "Thanks to medical advances and the care and love of those around them, the average life expectancy for people with Down’s syndrome is now between 50 and 60 years, with a small number of people living into their seventies and beyond.

"Everyone at the Down’s Syndrome Association wishes Georgie a very happy birthday and all the best for the future."