Heavenly trip for reverend Sam

PUBLISHED: 13:31 25 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:54 17 June 2010

AN Ottery minister fulfilled his boyhood ambition on Tuesday by taking control of a double-decker bus at the mere age of 90. The Reverend Sam Connolly, who passed his driving test in 1937, got behind the wheel of the £250,000 Stagecoach bus at West Poin

AN Ottery minister fulfilled his boyhood ambition on Tuesday by taking control of a double-decker bus at the mere age of 90. The Reverend Sam Connolly, who passed his driving test in 1937, got behind the wheel of the £250,000 Stagecoach bus at West Point, near Exeter, for an hour long lesson as part of a surprise birthday present. Mr Connolly said: "I've wanted to do this since I was a teenager. "It lived up to all my expectations and Stagecoach were absolutely superb but I don't intend on applying for my license."Mr Connolly said before the lesson: "I'm a bit worried because it's an automatic, I don't know if you pray but if you do remember me." He proved more than capable and welcomed 10 close friends aboard for a spin around the test course. He added: "I didn't ask them for their bus passes, they did keep ringing the bell but I paid no notice." Mr Connolly, of Mill Street, has been a Methodist minister since the age of 28 and retired to Ottery 25 years ago. On Saturday over 130 people from the town and further afield joined together to celebrate him entering his ninth decade. The overwhelming numbers meant a quick change of venue from the Methodist chapel to the United Reformed Church. Mr Connolly also received over 300 cards. He said: "The postman was brining them 55 at a time, I felt quite humbled."Friends presented him with his surprise bus ride as well as a collection for a hot air balloon trip. The reverend paid tribute to the people of Ottery and their efforts in making his 90th birthday a special one. He said: "I like the spirit between the different churches.

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