A VETERAN from Bolton celebrated his 95th birthday by finally realising a dream he had since he was a young boy.

Joe Entwisle, of Morris Green, turned 95 on October 21 and was asked by his sister-in-law Joyce what he wanted for his birthday. He replied “I would have loved to go on the footplate of a steam train with the driver”.

Debra Holt, his niece and Joyce’s daughter, said: “He could have asked for anything but it was the only thing he wanted to do”

Joyce then contacted the East Lancashire Railway and one of the workers there, Dani Massey, arranged for Joe to do this on Saturday, November 2. Debra said: “It was always let’s see what we can do with Deni not all about health and safety. Most places would have said no but they didn’t.”

Joe has difficulty walking and wears hearing aids and so the climb up the steep and high steps up to the footplate was strenuous.

However, his family and the team at the East Lancashire Railway helped him climb up safely. Debra said: “It was quite exerting for him but he was so determined to do it. Me and mum were in bits and so was Dani. There was not a dry eye on the platform.”

“He is a man of few words but when we sat him in the carriage he looked out of the window and said ‘It’s every young boys dream and I just did it.”

Once the dream was realised, Joe and his family enjoyed a trip through Irwell valley to Rawtenstall.

On route, Joe enjoyed a pie and a pint which was followed by a birthday cake from Armstrong Bakers were Joe’s mother used to send him as a young boy.

Joe was born and brought up in Bolton. He stayed there his entire life aside from being posted with the Navy in Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, during the Second World War.

Once his post in Ceylon finished, he continued to work locally for the war effort by making floating rafts.

After the war he worked at Watson’s as a Pattern Maker. He kept himself entertained by attending every Bolton Wanderers game and fishing.

Now, Joe spends a lot of his time at the Salvation Army where he has many friends. His family describe Joe as a very humble man and are glad he got to finally live his dream. Debra said: “He has helped out family out so much. It was a honour to do this for him.”