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Birthday bus ride delight

PUBLISHED: 23:40 07 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

THERE was a doubly good reason to celebrate a 70th birthday for one Ipswich pensioner after he enjoyed the drive of his life.

Instead of buying Bob Dunnett slippers, chocolates or a meal out, wife Rita helped him to realise a life-long ambition – to drive a double-decker bus.

THERE was a doubly good reason to celebrate a 70th birthday for one Ipswich pensioner after he enjoyed the drive of his life.

Instead of buying Bob Dunnett slippers, chocolates or a meal out, wife Rita helped him to realise a life-long ambition - to drive a double-decker bus.

Under the watchful eye of Tony Moss, chief instructor at Ipswich Buses, Mr Dunnett made himself right at home in the driving seat as he sped around RAF Bentwaters.

The plucky pensioner, of Main Road, Martlesham, who turned 70 on Saturday claimed his bizarre dream stemmed from childhood memories.

He said: "When I was a kid and I saw single-decker buses, I thought they looked big but the double-deckers looked like blocks of flats going past. I always thought I'd love to have a go.

"But despite its size, it was surprising how easy it was to manoeuvre. I was amazed that as soon as I got behind the wheel, the fact it was so big just disappeared. I was expecting to be driving an older bus - something from my era - but it was brand new and had an automatic gearbox which helped."

In all, Mr Dunnett spent 45 minutes racing around the track, managing to reach 50mph - a decent pace for a 12-ton bus.

BBC Radio Suffolk helped to arrange the drive after Mrs Dunnett got in touch with the Make it Happen show.

Mr Dunnett said: "When my wife gave me my birthday presents, I'd always say, 'thanks but I wanted to drive a bus'. This being a big birthday, I guess she finally gave in. It took me 70 years to get behind the wheel, but it was a fantastic experience and one I'll never forget."

He added: "My grandchildren declined the offer of coming on board while I was driving so they're not getting any more birthday presents!

"I would love to do it again, although my next target is to drive a tank. I've already asked my wife to put the wheels in motion."

N Have you got something unusual planned for your birthday or anniversary? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Fast Facts: Buses.

Most double-deckers are around four metres high.

During the year, the average person travels 730km by bus.

A double-decker bus can carry the same number of people as 80 single-occupied cars.

A double-decker bus in Southampton was named after Millvina Dean, a survivor of the Titanic.

London is known the world over for its famous red double-decker buses.


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