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Tony's final journey ... in armoured car; TRIBUTE: Vehicle club steps in to help family and friends fulfil enthusiast's dying wish.

Byline: By Warren Manger

A COVENTRY car fanatic had his dying wish granted yesterday when he made his final journey through the city in a giant armoured car.

Tony Shirley, of Milton Street, Stoke, dreamed of taking a ride in the Humber Pig he helped the Made In Coventry Motoring Association rebuild from scrap.

But sadly he died of cancer last week before he was able to fulfil that dream.

So the 52-year-old's friends and family rallied around and arranged to send him off in style in the Coventry-made Pig instead of a traditional hearse.

Tony, a life-long Coventrian and former Stoke Heath and Frederick Bird pupil, was a huge classic car fan and used to work at the city's Morris plant.

His nephew Luke, a fellow motoring enthusiast, said: "When I visited Tony in hospital and told him I had driven the Pig he got all upset."

"So when the Made in Coventry Motoring Association said we could use some of their cars we thought it would be a great, unique way to say goodbye to him.

"He always loved classic cars - if it was made in Coventry, he was interested in it."

Tony, a doting single father to Liam, Demi and Lucy and grandfather to Harvey, was taken for one last lap of the Coventry ring road in the Humber Pig on his way to St Albans Church in Mercer Avenue for the funeral service.

The Made In Coventry Motoring Association also provided two classic 50s Jaguars to take family members to the funeral.

Vincent Hammersley, of the Made In Coventry Motoring Association, said: "Tony was so pleased when we launched the association."

"Guys like us have bits have bits of metal and fuel running around our system, not blood.

"We were honoured to be able to grant Tony's final wish and send him off in style."

HUMBER PIG FACTFILE

The Humber Pig, proper name the Humber FV1600 Armoured Personnel Carrier, was a heavily armoured car used by the British Army from the 1950s to the 1990s.

There were about 1,700 made.

It was It is best known for its use on the streets of Northern Ireland during the height of the conflict.

Legend has it the Pig got its nickname because its bonnet resembled a pig's snout and because it was so difficult to drive.

The vehicle stands at 7 feet tall, weighs 7.5 tonnes and could carry up to 12 soldiers including the driver.

It incorporates a six cylinder Rolls Royce engine and a welded steel hull to protect the passengers.

CAPTION(S):

DS180908fune-4 LAST RESPECTS... Tony Shirley's coffin is lifted out of the Humber Pig armoured car and carried into St Alban's Church (above); car enthusiast Tony with a classic car (right) and with son Liam (left). Main picture: Darryl Smith
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 19, 2008
Words:468
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