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Tanks for the memories! Dad surprises children on school pick-up - in pictures and video

By Lucy Todman | North Shropshire | News | Published:

When dad-of-two Ben Kaye promised he would pick up his sons from school when they broke up for the summer holidays they had more reason than most the be excited.

For it wasn't going to be in the family saloon car that Ben would be waiting at the school gates. Instead it would be behind the controls of his eight-and-a-half tonne tank, which he has lovingly and patiently spent the last 14 years restoring.

So when the doors of Weston Lullingfields Primary School, near Baschurch swung open at 3.15pm yesterday two very excited little boys hurtled out.

SHREW TANK SL 18

Will, eight and 10-year-old Sam had told all their friends that their dad and granddad Tom would be arriving in the Scorpion tank, which according to the Guinness Book of Records is the fastest tank in the world.

However, this particular vehicle threw a spanner in the works during the trip to the village school. Overheating spark plugs led to a misfire and Ben and Tom anxiously and hastily did a spot of mechanics out of the way of prying eyes.

But it was soon back on track and ready and waiting when the bell rang.

Labour of love

Sam said: "It's amazing, it feels brilliant being in the tank. You can feel the power. My dad said he would pick us up on the last day of term and this is an amazing experience."

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Will added: "It is just awesome. When it all lights up on the control panel it feels like you really are at war. It's even got a live gun!"

Ben, 42, runs a vehicle repair business and has spent hours working on and restoring military vehicles. At the last count the family had 15 tanks, armed personnel carriers and tracked vehicles.

Tom, 72 is a retired design and technology teacher and he can trace Ben's fascination with military vehicles back to when he was a 19-year-old student who spent his first student loan on one. "He said it was an investment and we couldn't really argue with that," said Tom.

Ben added: "I was a little nervous as this was the first road trip the tank has done. We had a slight problem with a misfire but we changed the spark plugs and everything seemed to work. I have had an interest in engineering and military vehicles for some time and I came across this one 14 years ago."

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He added that the restoration had been a 'labour of love' and he had slowly been doing the work but once he made his promise to the boys, he had to pick up the pace.

"It has created a lot of excitement. The boys have been very, very excited," he said. "Just to see the looks on their faces was worth all the hard work. They will remember this and I'm really happy."

The tank was built in 1973 and is powered by a 4.2 Jaguar engine. It has a 76mm gun and a machine gun and reaches a top speed of 56mph.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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