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Merlin at Beltring 2002.
Back in March of this year I accidentally got the task of co-ordinating the 50th Anniversary bash for the Daimler Ferret. These vehicles entered service with the British Army in 1952.
Rex Cadman, the War & Peace Show organiser, was a big help with getting me in contact with people to help with the organising, but with no lists of available Ferrets (with thier owners contact details attached) I had an uphill task of tracing as many vehicles as possible. This job was helped greatly with Jim Websters kind permission to use the lists of vehilces on the Ferret Heaven web-site. This list was then tallied with other lists that I could find. I ended up with details of 173 Ferrets in private hands, but still no way of contacting the owners!
By the end of June I was making good progress, with 33 Ferrets booked into the show. Unfortunately I was not sure how many of these were due to camp with my display, because most had booked directly into the show as normal.
Eventually the show arrived, and I was getting very nervius! I literally had no idea how the show would turn out. The first few days were very busy with a handfull of helpers keeping a keen eye on the entrance for any Ferrets thats rolled up. The moment a Ferret arrived, I was there, asking for support. It was a pleasant surprise at how many people were grateful that there vehicles got noticed and that I took time to personally meet everyone. Unfortunately most owners wanted to camp with thier friends (understandably), but the majority did say that they would bring vehicles over to the display and leave them during the day time.
For the first 3 days of the show the Ferrets were very thin on the ground. We managed, at best, 5 Ferrets at any given time; and I was starting to get a bit down. A feeling made worse by the sheer number of Austin Champs that appeared to be surrounding us. (over 80 I believe) Something had to be done to lift morale and keep the Ferrets noticed so a series of short, after show, convoys were made around the show ground. These attracted a lot of interest around the site and consisted of up to 9 Ferrets.
Come Saturday morning, and I was determined that the Ferrets were going to put on a good display. It was the first day that we had an arena event to do, and was likely to be the busiest day. Every owner was traced, and briefed about the days events. The static display wielded over 10 vehicles. Soon it was the moment of truth; we were due to enter the arena.
I still had no idea how many Ferrets were going to actually turn up, but we got ready and formed up. My commander did a quick count.....11 Ferrets. If all the ones from the East of England Tank Museum supported us as promised, and met us in the arena, then we should make 16 vehicles in the line up, plus the Daimler Dingo, and Alvis Fox that I had invited along for historical comparison.
I breathed a sigh of relief, It was going to be a success after all. We set off for the arena with 15 minutes to go, so that we could navigate slowly, and safely, through the crowds. All I could see were the headlights of the two Ferrets following on behind; right up to the arena entrance. My commander could only say to me that the Ferrets 'went on for miles', but could not give a real figure.
Eventually the gates opened and the Ferrets went in. After a quick lap, the Ferrets started to line up in front of the crowds. Now was the first chance to count the vehicles and get photos. I nearly collapsed when I reallised that there were 23 Ferrets in that arena. That is a sight that I will never forget.
After the show was over I did my best to personally thank everyone that had supported the show. The owners all appreciated it, and many asked if I would do a repeat next year. As of yet I am still undecided.
My thanks go out the Dingo and Fox owners that supported our show at such short notice. Unfortunately I was unable to trace the two owners to thank them in person.
'58 Daimler Ferret
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