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How Did You Get Your Ferret?

After the way the media reacted to the tragedy of DunblaneI was faced with the fact that the hobby of Pistol shooting I had enjoyed for 30 years was going to be taken away from me. When the government banned Pistols in this country I was given the problem of finding another hobby that gave as much satisfaction and was able to last through the week as well as while l was participating in the sport at weekends. Pistol shooting involved a lot of time casting bullets, reloading ammunition and general maintenance. Owning a Ferret beats time consumption hands down.

I have always had an interest in Military vehicles, especially since an uncle of mine owned a Dingo for some yearns but had never been able to afford to indulge in this pastime. With the promise of compensation from the government I realized I had the possibility of a cash bonus, it took 18 months for the government to pay up though. A Dingo was too expensive but a Ferret? Maybe.

After convincing a very understanding wife that hubby had to have a hobby, a quick talk to the Bank, “yes a lone for an armoured car please'', and Ferrets disappeared off of the face of the Earth. I went with wife and kids up to Hirst's scrap yard after hearing he had about 20. BIG mistake, wife wasn't impressed by the rusting mangled hulks. I quickly reassured her that what I wanted was much better and then I carried on looking. (Apologies to those who bought from Hirst's really weren't that bad, in fact early in 1998 I bought one.).

PLUTO'97 came and Eastleigh carnival was the same weekend and family ties meant I was throwing pennies rather than Ferret hunting. My uncle, past Dingo owner, and Andy Deacon a close shooting buddy went to the allow with strict instructions to ask everyone from 6 upwards if they had a Ferret for sale. On the Saturday evening “uncle''leaves a phone number saying that this chap Paul Gannawayhas a friend who is selling a Ferret for about£1200.00! (Dream on) Paul is staying at the show and won't be back home until Monday so don't bother ringing until then. He was right because the 20 or so phone calls on Sunday weren't answered, nor were the early ones on Monday. When the phone was answered it was Paul's wife Theresa who said Paul would wring back later that evening. Paul rang back as promised, I think I must have trod in something because the price was£1200.00 and the Ferret drove under its own steam. I then told Paul I would buy the Ferret and when did he want the money? Paul arranged the deal with his friend on the Tuesday but was a bit concerned that I hadn't seen the Ferret or even met him. Faith I kept telling the wife and myself. The problem then arose on how to get the beast home. First prices from recovery firms were around £300.00 and 2-3 weeks. On the Wednesday evening a chance meeting with my wife's boss Brian solved the problem. Brian works as a salesman for HendyFord here in Chandlers Ford and gave me the name of a recovery firm he sometimes uses. "Tellthem I sent you'' he said, so over to wife who phoned them on Thursday price£100.00 Saturday.

On Thursday evening Theresa phoned. "Paulis out until late and the chap selling the Ferret had been in touch panicking over the money so Paul had been to the bank and used their money to pay him'' she was a little concerned that I might not be up on 5 Saturday. After promising I would be there and if she wanted I could drive up to Swindon that night with the money, she seemed happier to have taken the risk. Saturday arrived so money in pocket, video camera, recovery truck, uncle and Andy off we set to Swindon. On the way we stopped for diesel and coffee so l bought Theresa a bunch of flowers as a peace offering and thank you realising what she and Paul must have gone through after buying a Ferret for someone they hadn't even met. We arrived in Swindon and I met Paul and Theresa for the first time, flowers worked, the Ferret was paid for before I saw it.

When we went to the garage where Paul had the Ferret the look on Andy's face was similar to my wife's at Hirst's. FaithI thought again! The Ferret had originally come from Hirst's but had been dry stored for the last 4 years. All bins, grenade launchers, lights, wings were complete and intact. It looked like all the previous owner had done to the Ferret was literally throw a tin of red lead paint over half of it on top of the previous 50 coats of green the army had all ready applied. Then came my first experience of driving a Ferret, 50 feet up onto the back of the recovery truck. When I got the Ferret home wife and family were waiting and made favourable noises when it came off of the recovery truck and drove into the garden. Andy started showing more interest in the Ferret and being a keen Pistol shooter I knew his thoughts were progressing along the lines of “I want one''.

So that is how and why I am now the proud owner of a Mk1/2 Ferret. 1998 gave it 2 outings to Military Vehicle shows at Denmead and Horndean. I went to Beltring in 1998 for the 3 days and had a fantastic weekend but it was to far to trundle the Ferret and I felt lost without it. If anyone can suggest a cheap way of getting the Ferret to Beltring in 1999, perhaps on the back of another vehicle already going there, please get in touch with me.

Andrew Noyce

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