A CONGREGATION in North Yorkshire welcomed a minister from Cornwall for a very special service.

Bryan Mills, of Stamford Bridge, turned 80 earlier this month, and as a gift his old friend from National Service, Michael Ely, who at the time was a Methodist lay preacher, but is now an ordained minister, will make the long journey up the country from Truro to take the service at St Mary’s Church in Sand Hutton.

Mr Mills, who was Corporal in charge of Malta Transport office and store, said: “We met on our National Service in 1955 in the Royal Engineers based at Midhurst in Sussex. The only time I’ve moved away from York was when I went on my National Service.

“He had just come out of training and he was very unaware of how the Royal Engineers worked, really. He knocked on my office door, standing to attention, saying ‘can I speak to you Corporal Mills?’ I told him we’re a working unit, we don’t have time to talk like that, we need to get working. We just clicked.”

Mr Mills left the Army in 1956, and Mr Ely left the following year. The pair have met up a number of times since, but Mr Mills said this was a special occasion.

He said: “We had been on holiday to Cornwall once or twice and looked him up 10 or 12 years ago.

“He was staying for a couple of days, so we took him for a trip to Holmfirth to see where Last Of The Summer Wine was filmed. He’s never been to Yorkshire before, so we took him to see the scenery.”