Leeds centenarian receives visit from mayors and MP

The centenenarians are booming in Leeds.

Leeds-born Rae Bowman is the latest three figure celebrity to enjoy her 100th birthday with a big party.

She celebrated the ground-breaking occasion in style with mayoral visits from both sides of the Pennines.

At the moment there are thought to be a couple of hundred men and women that have reached the magic 100 across West Yorkshire, but their numbers are growing and it is reckoned there will be thousands within a few decades.

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jim McKenna and the Lady Mayoress Coun Andrea McKenna joined the Lord Mayor of Manchester Mark Hackett and Lady Mayoress Sheila Saunders at a celebratory party at Oakwood care home Aberford Hall where Mrs Bowman resides.

Mrs Bowman, who worked at Barnbow munitions factory doing administrative work during the Second World War, recalled seeing the

Duke of Kent when he visited the site a year before he was killed in an air crash.

"I saw the bluest of blue eyes peering in at me through my office window. He smiled very charmingly and wanted to see what I was doing," said the centenarian.

Trained to be an artist at Leeds School of Art Mrs Bowman went to work for up-market store Marshall and Snelgrove.

"In my final year at art school the departmental store needed someone to do the art work for their fashion catalogues.

"The school sent two girls to try out for the job but they turned out unsuitable. So the next week they sent me and I got the job.

"I stayed there for a few months because I was only doing fashion work. I really wanted to be involved in general advertising."

Mrs Bowman's memory is largely undimmed by the many passing years and she can remember the First World War when she was a child. It was a terrible time but I was a child so I only knew what I was told.

"As children we amused ourselves by playing a game where we had stones and we used to throw them on to the pavement.

"I was always England and my friend was Germany and if my stone went further than his then I had won the war and there were cheers all round."

Mrs Bowman's late husband Albert, who served in the Second World War, died over 40 years ago.

She attributes her longevity to an active life and having a good sense

of humour.

"Of course, I suppose it's all down to having good genes, isn't it?" she said.

Coun Judith Blake,  leader of Leeds City Council.

Judith Blake: From the Leeds United terraces to the corridors of power