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vital statistics

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lHouse prices in Thames Ditton, Surrey, have risen 206 per cent over the last decade, says the Halifax. The average increase was 75 per cent.

Other high climbers include Teddington, London, (194 per cent) and Shepton Mallet, Somerset (188 per cent).

lPre-tax profits for George Wimpey soared 24 per cent to £181 million for the year ended 31 December 2001.

Turnover was up 11 per cent to £1.89 billion.

lMicrosoft's Bill Gates is the world's richest man for the eighth year in a row, says Forbes Globalmagazine. He is worth £37.4 billion - a drop of £4.2 billion from 2001. The UK's richest person is the Duke of Westminster, with £4.75 billion.

lTen per cent of the world's population is 60 or over and this figure will double by 2050, according to a United Nations survey. It also claims that the number of people over 100 will climb from the current number of 210,000 to 3.2 million in the same period.

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