|2005-10-06 21:04:00||satisfied||Bike-Pink Floyd-The Piper at the Gates of Dawn|
I celebrated my 75th birthday at the wheel of double-decker bus
BY DAN KENDRICK 01905 742253 dk AT thisisworcester.co.uk
A 75-YEAR-old thrill-seeker fulfilled a lifelong ambition when her family organised a special birthday present – for her to drive a double-decker bus.
Lena Ryan, of Hallow Road, Worcester, had wanted to take the wheel of an Aston’s coach since her early days as a teacher at the city’s Sunnyside preparatory school.
She remembers vividly how much she wanted to ask the driver if she could take the wheel when the coach came to take the children swimming each week.
She even considered writing to Jim’ll Fix It – the popular TV programme where Jimmy Saville helped people to fulfill their dreams – until someone else beat her to it.
However, on her birthday on Friday, Mrs Ryan’s son, Bruce, finally arranged with Aston’s, on the A38, near Kempsey, for her to put a double-decker and long-distance coach through their paces.
Mrs Ryan said: “It was a complete surprise. My husband told me we were going for lunch and I said ‘We are going the wrong way’. When we turned into Aston’s I finally realised.”
Mrs Ryan kept to the private land at the coach park and said the experience was every bit as good as she had hoped.
“It was just unbelievable. I’m still on cloud nine,” she said.
“The double decker was easier to drive and the coach was so specialist. They pointed out all sorts of additions for driving on hairpin bends and tight corners.”
Aston’s even suggested a donation to St Richard’s Hospice instead of payment for the gift.
The surprise celebrations continued when her husband, Jack, said they needed to attend an important scout committee meeting at the Portobello pub, in St John’s, that night.
“We arrived and the room was full of friends and wellwishers for a surprise party,” she said. “It was amazing.”
Mrs Ryan even joked that with one son in the Army and friends in the Navy, perhaps she might be flying a helicopter or plane this time next year.
However, she is no stranger to extraordinary birthdays, having arrived in Dover on her eighth as an Austrian refugee escaping Hitler’s regime in 1938 and on another occasion, having an Indian elephant adopted for her as a gift.