THEY may only be a short car journey away from one another — but living in different parts of the Dungannon District could add more than ten years to your life.
People living in the heart of Dungannon and Coalisland will, on average, die at least a decade younger than people living in the rolling parkland of Caledon according to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency.
William Beattie, a former Chief Executive of Dungannon Council, who has lived in Caledon all his life, said he believed the greater life expectancy was down to Caledon’s quiet pace of life, the strong community spirit and the unspoilt parkland which surrounds the village.
“Caledon sits on the border between Counties Tyrone, Monaghan and Armagh, and because of the development that has taken place over the last 300 years in terms of landed estates, we are surrounded by a considerable amount of wooded parkland, much more so than anywhere else in the borough”, said the 69-year-old.
“Not only do we have less industry and fewer busy roads, but we also have so many trees to soak up any pollution.
“I now live only a few minutes from where I was born, and I hope to benefit from Caledon’s tranquil and clean atmosphere for a good number of years.
“People lead a less stressful life here, and we have a strong sense of community that helps protect and support people.”
Since retiring William has kept himself busy working with the Caledon Regeneration Partnership and pursuing active hobbies such as gardening.
“I’ve never felt like moving anywhere else, and I’m not surprised to hear that Caledon people have a greater longevity than people living in other parts of the district.
“Life is very good here and we keep ourselves busy, but at the same time I am reminded by the epitah on a grave in St John’s Cemetery. It belongs to a Mr Smith, a former manager of Caledon mill, and it reads: “Life is faster than a weaver’s shuttle.”
Figures released by the Northern Ireland Stastical Research Agency also show that people are more likely to die from a heart-attack in the Dungannon District than in most other areas in Northern Ireland.
The local death rate from circulatory disesases stands at 299 per 100,000. Only Cookstown and Derry had higher death-rates at 327 and 308 respectively.
Health Minister Edwin Poots his issued a proposal to address such starkly varying life expectancies and other health inequalities within local districts.
He has urged people across Northern Ireland to take responsibility for their own health and make simple lifestyle changes that could save their lives.
Mr Poots said: “I am committed to improving the health of our population. We have seen many improvements and people are living longer than before. However, those who are disadvantaged in our society do not have an equal chance of experiencing good health and wellbeing.
“Too many still die prematurely or live with conditions that they need not have.”
Mr Poots said he is particularly determined to address public health inequalities in children to prevent them from developing potentially fatal diseases.
“Too many people are in hospital with preventable conditions and this is putting a real burden on the health service,” he said.
“I want to see changes made now that will benefit everyone in one generation — such as making it more difficult for children to take up smoking.
“The Public Health Agency is working with community groups so they can help people on the ground improve their health. This is not about being a nanny state, this is about educating people so they can make decisions to help themselves.”