A SENIOR member of a Darlington flower club is blooming after celebrating his 100th birthday.

Albert Hawman, who turned 100 on Monday, November 25, joined Darlington Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society in 1950 and recently had a new chrysanthemum named after him.

He was born in Barnard Castle in 1912, but later moved to Brusselton, near Shildon, when he was 11.

Mr Hawman started working on the railways in 1927 as an engine cleaner before becoming an engine driver, driving trains across the North-East for more than 30 years.

“I drove one of the sister trains of the Flying Scotsman. She was called the Flying Fox and I drove her from York to Newcastle – that was my favourite journey,” he said.

He met his wife, Vera, on Whit Sunday in 1938 when he was 26 and she was 22.

He said: “I was riding my motorbike back from a big meet at Barnard Castle with my friend. When we rode down High Row, in Darlington, we saw two girls stood on the kerb.

“They had missed their last bus back to Newton Aycliffe and so one got on his bike and one got on my bike, and that was that.”

The couple married a year later at St Andrew’s Church, in Newton Aycliffe, before moving to Darlington and having two children, Doug and David.

Despite having to give up growing chrysanthemums, he regularly attends the flower society’s shows and still enjoys the flowers.

Mr Hawman, who has six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, believes the secret to a long life is by keeping healthy.

He said: “I have never drank or smoked in my life. My wife used to say I’ll be living until I’m 150.”