Posted on 25th June 2014
Mark Connelly (left) with ACC Gary KnightonLocal bus driver Mark Connelly has been named as a gold medal winner at the national Police Public Bravery Awards.
Mr Connelly was driving his bus along his usual route from Nottingham to Long Eaton, in November 2012, when he was confronted by an armed man who was circling the bus pointing a gun at his passengers.
Despite fears for his own safety, the quick-thinking bus driver calmly ushered his passengers to the rear of the bus and instructed them to hide under seats.
He then returned to the driving seat and slowly tried to reverse the bus away from the man as some of his terrified passengers called home to say goodbye to their loved ones.
Firearms officers arrived on the scene and fired a baton round at the gunman before closing in and arresting him.
The rifle was later identified as a replica, and the gunman was sentenced to five years in prison for possessing an imitation firearm.
Despite his ordeal, Mark remained on shift driving each passenger to their front door to ensure they got home safely. Many took to the bus company’s Facebook page the following day to thank Mark for protecting them, with the mother of a 16-year-old girl aboard the bus hailing him a hero.
Mark is one of a 38 people from across the country who have been recognised for their bravery at the event organised by South Yorkshire Police.
Chief Constable David Crompton, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "Policing in the UK has always been performed with the consent of the public and we simply could not do our job without their assistance.
"Today's ceremony is an opportunity to thank the public-spirited men, women and children who have gone beyond what could reasonably be expected of them to help protect their community, detect crime and assist the police.
"These acts often involve spur of the moment decisions which give little regard to the individual's own safety often placing them at the very heart of danger."
The award is considered annually by a selection committee with nominations submitted by chief officers in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The selection committee comprises: - the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, representatives of the Superintendents’ Association, Police Federation, The Goldsmiths Company, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police.
"The award winners have been responsible for the very bravest acts performed by members of the public within the last 18 months", said Mr Crompton.
"I am truly humbled by the courage, selflessness and the determination they have displayed and am delighted to be paying tribute to them today."
In March this year Mr Connelly, who lives in Allestree, received a commendation for his actions from Derbyshire’s Chief Constable Mick Creedon.
Mr Connelly (left) is pictured with Derbyshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Gary Knighton.