THE former principal of Sir John Deane's College is celebrating his 90th birthday.

Doug Lucas joined as headmaster when it was still a boy's grammar school in 1973 and played a pivotal role overseeing its transition to a sixth form college, one of the first in the country.

Doug said: "You never know with a new institution whether it's going to work - but it just did from one.

"It has always been a happy, hard-working place with a devoted staff."

The dad-of-three retired in 1990 and went on to serve as clerk to the foundation governors for a further 20 years.

He continued to work as a supply teacher in various secondary schools in Northwich and was formerly headmaster of Crewe Grammar School for Boys.

Widower Paul still drives, enjoys gardening and cooks and looks after himself at home in Nantwich.

His son Paul said: "Thousands of people in Northwich will know him. He was at the college for 17 years and was involved in lots of things in the community and used to judge competitions.

"He is ridiculously active for his age. He lives on his own, cooks and does everything. He loves gardening, reading and music.

"He is very independent, sanguine and calm and very considered."

Doug was an active member of Northwich Rotary Club until very recently and served as president.

He met his late wife Joan whilst they were both students at Hull University, where degrees were accredited by London University.

"Mum was studying a degree in botany," said Paul. "Dad studied French and spent a lot of time in France as a teaching assistant before they got married.

"I remember him telling me that he saw burnt out tanks on the road as he was cycling through the countryside in the late 40s."

The couple were married for 55 years when Joan sadly died in 2012.

Doug, who taught French before he became a head teacher, still practices languages and enjoys putting his word skills to the test.

"He loves crosswords," added Paul. "He regularly does the Times crossword and sends it off every week. He as won a few times."

Doug will be 90 on Monday and will be celebrating his birthday over the weekend with his children Sarah, Paul and John, eight grandchildren, family and friends.