100th birthday celebration for Vera - on the footplate of a steam engine!

100 year old Vera Brown gets to ride on the footplate of a steam train, a lifelong ambition of hers, pictured with her at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is fireman K Favell PNL-160814-213720009
100 year old Vera Brown gets to ride on the footplate of a steam train, a lifelong ambition of hers, pictured with her at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is fireman K Favell PNL-160814-213720009

To celebrate her 100th birthday Vera Brown had a very unusual request.

A lifelong lover of trains, she wanted nothing more than to ride on the footplate of an operational steam engine.

And thanks to the Bucks Railway Centre in Quainton, her dream came true at the weekend.

The experience was organised for the former welfare officer by friends, ahead of the landmark birthday on September 18.

Vera said: “I don’t know why I wanted to do it really. I think I should have been a boy.

“When I was young my cousin had a train set and I had a farm set, he used to play with my farm set and I used to play with his train set.

“Steam trains have such a character and I always used to love to see them going through the stations.”

She added: “It was really was a fantastic experience, and I got to see how it all worked. It was a very warm and dirty experience but I expected it to be dirty and was well prepared.

“I wouldn’t really want to do it as a regular job as it was too hot really, the Bucks Railway Centre is a lovely place.”

Vera was born in 1916 and in 1945 married Percival who was in the RAF.

Sadly, Percival died when he was in his 50s, but Vera has lots of friends who are excited to share her special day next month.

Friend Dorothy Fox, who organised the treat, said: “ A little while ago when we had an outing Vera said that riding on the footplate of steam engine would be a lovely thing to do.

“It wasn’t a surprise because I needed to check that she wasn’t busy, and we didn’t know until the day that she would defintely be able to ride on the footplate, because that was the driver’s decision.

“Vera is a role model to me.”

And as her next challenge, Vera is looking forward to a holiday in Weymouth, when asked what the secret to a long life is she said: “I honestly don’t know, I just keep going and have always lived an active life.

“I have been very fortunate that my brain hasn’t stopped working properly, so many people suffer with dementia and that is so sad. I’m very grateful that I am still reasonably with it.”