Centenarian on the lookout for love

THOMAS the tortoise may be nearing 100 but his passion remains undimmed.The gallivanting Lothario has gone missing from his home near Stowmarket and is thought to be on the prowl in his latest labour for love.

THOMAS the tortoise may be nearing 100 but his passion remains undimmed.

The gallivanting Lothario has gone missing from his home near Stowmarket and is thought to be on the prowl in his latest labour for love.

Owner Roy Kerridge is now appealing for him to be returned to his home in Forward Green by anyone who may have found Thomas after he sloped off four weeks ago.

In the five years Thomas has lived with the Kerridges he has made a break for freedom every August.

On at least two of the occasions the frisky reptile has eloped to a bungalow half a mile away in Fen Lane to move in with a female companion who lives there.

"Usually when Thomas comes back it is close to the hibernation season," said Mr Kerridge.

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"On the two occasions he went there we left him. Then we quietly went down and took him away when they were both asleep. It seemed only fair when they had got together."

Before his most recent disappearance last month Thomas started to show signs of longing again.

"Every year about August time he seems to want to go on walkabout," said Mr Kerridge. "He gets very restless. Twice he's managed to get down to a bungalow in Fen Lane(half a mile away). He was very enamoured with the family tortoise. Apparently 100 years of abstinence has not entirely made him forget his natural instincts."

After Thomas' previous escape attempts Mr Kerridge had put wire netting down along his back garden boundaries to trap Thomas and ensure he did not carry on his philanderings. However shortly before he hot-footed it this time Mr Kerridge became away of the telltale signs of frustration.

"He was sort of wandering around, chasing around me," he said.

Mr Kerridge said he had also been left shell-shocked when Thomas had meandered off on three previous occasions to his liaisons with his sweetheart in Fen Lane.

Once he even managed to get a couple of miles down the road before being found by his saviours who returned him a month later after seeing notices Mr Kerridge put up in the village.

Thomas, who is 25cms long and has an orange scar on his left shoulder, originally came to England with a soldier returning from the First World War who brought him back as a gift for his children.

However Mr Kerridge said his family were given him when his second cousin Doris Proctor-Smith received Thomas from the soldier who told her his family did not want him.

Thomas moved in with Mr Kerridge five years ago after Ms Proctor-Smith's death.

Mr Kerridge now hopes the notices he has put up around Forward Green will see Thomas return once more in time for a well-deserved sleep during the winter months.

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