A British man with Down syndrome recently celebrated his 77th birthday — a milestone many believe has made him the oldest person in the United Kingdom with the disorder.
Georgie Wildgust rang in his 77th year on Aug. 16, and celebrated surrounded by family and friends at the Watcombe Circus care home in Nottingham, according to SWNS. Wildgust was all smiles on his big day, and credits dancing and an active social life with reaching 77.
“It’s amazing for him to get to this age. My grandma was told he would not live past 10-years-old because of his Down syndrome,” Wildgust’s niece, Nikki Wright, told SWNS. “But they were wrong. Look at him now.”
Wildgust moved into the care home in 1993 and has lived there since with 12 other residents — including his girlfriend Lorraine, who just moved out, Wright said, according to the BBC.
“Honestly, every single day you come to work he will make you smile,” said Kimberley Taylor, a staff member at the care home, according to the BBC.
About one in every 1,000 babies born in the U.K. will have Down syndrome, according to the Down’s Syndrome Association. Approximately 40,000 people in the U.K. are living with the condition. The average life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome is between 50 and 60 years old, with only a few living into their 70s.
Wright told SWNS that Wildgust has likely lived so long because he has always been well taken care of.
“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,” Wright said. “He was always told by his mum that he can do anything and because of that, he has always been very independent.”
Wildgust, who has two siblings, worked as a gardener and rug maker before retiring and entering the care home. His younger brother, 71-year-old Colin, died three years ago, and his sister, Jean Yessyan, 79, often chats with him on Skype from Australia.
In a video honoring the man, Wildgust is shown dancing and talking about one of his favorite shows, Strictly Come Dancing. Care assistant Javine Lacey called Wildgust a “miracle,” telling the Nottingham Post that he quickly “bounced back” from recent health issues.
But Wright said Wildgust powering through hard times is nothing out of the ordinary.
“He was always told by his mum that he can do anything and because of that, he has always been very independent,” she said, according to the Post. “He doesn’t like being told what to do really, but I do think that is why he has reached 77.”