An ambulance crew in Bolton were left ‘absolutely overwhelmed’ after a chance encounter with soap opera royalty.

Bruce Jones, best known for his portrayal of Les Battersby in ITV’s Coronation Street, stopped to thank the NHS staff for their service on his way to a birthday party on Sunday.

The actor, 69, was in a limo on his way to the gathering at Church Ward Conservative Club with friend Matthew Davidge to celebrate Matthew’s partner Mariyka's 60th birthday.

On the way, they stopped at the Esso Garage on Castle Street, Bolton, where they saw the paramedics buying petrol for their ambulance.

Matthew, 53, who presents a drive time show for XO Radio in Manchester, said the crew couldn’t believe their eyes.

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The Bolton News: Bruce Jones and friends with NHS ambulance crew in Bolton. Photo: Mick EllisonBruce Jones and friends with NHS ambulance crew in Bolton. Photo: Mick Ellison (Image: Mick Ellison)

He said: “While we were [at the garage] there was an ambulance that was filling up with petrol and Bruce just got out of the limousine and said ‘I’m just going to go over and say thank you to everyone in the NHS who’s been helping out.’ “[the ambulance crew] sat in the Limousine and we had a bit of a banter.

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“The NHS staff were absolutely overwhelmed because they couldn’t believe that they’d just met Les Battersby.”

As well as celebrating Mariska’s birthday, the party was also held to raise money for Destination Florida, a charity which helps seriously ill children go on the holiday of a life time.

Matthew said that Bruce, who is set to star in a Disney+ reboot of the 1997 comedy, The Full Monty, felt it was important to express his gratitude to the NHS.

Matthew continued: “ He made the point of going over to say thank you very much indeed, because their working so hard at the moment.”