IT may have been her 98th birthday, but even Florrie Birtwell never dreamed she would be spending the day cruising around the Ribble Valley in the lap of luxury!

But that is just what awaited Florrie and her 100-year-old friend, Emma Brown, also of Whalley, when the two ladies were treated to a chauffeur-driven tour in a Bentley, courtesy of Ribble Valley Mayor Coun Chris Holtom.

The treat, in fact, was a gift from Coun Holtom after he won the first prize trip in a raffle at Whalley Chamber of Trade's annual dinner earlier in the year.

It had been donated to the chamber's dinner by John Ashworth, a resident of Bramley Meade, in Whalley, and one of the directors of Ribble Valley Bentley, based in Rishton.

"I tried to give the prize back but they wouldn't let me so I asked Coun Joyce Holgate, chair of the chamber of trade, if she could suggest two people to go instead.

She immediately suggested Florrie, of Calder Vale and Emma, of Moor Field, who have been close friends since childhood," said Coun Holtom.

As well as the hour-and-a-half luxury tour around the Valley, the two ladies enjoyed lunch at The Dog Inn, in the village, where they were presented with flower arrangements and an iced birthday cake for Florrie from, the chamber of trade.

"We are absolutely thrilled," said Emma, "We feel like queens."

And Florrie added: "It is marvellous. I couldn't believe it at first; it has been a wonderful day."

Coun Holgate said: "When the Mayor asked me to suggest two people from the village to go on the trip I could not think of two more deserving people. They are both marvellous ladies."

After being picked up from the doorstep of The Dog Inn, chauffeur James Taylor took the ladies on their mystery tour beginning with Ribchester and then taking in places like Stonyhurst, Whitewell, Dunsop Bridge, the Nick O' Pendle, Wiswell and back to Whalley.