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Jimmy's a fast worker in dash for love

PUBLISHED: 17:35 04 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:57 03 March 2010

WHEN spring is in the air every young man's fancy turns to love. But at the age of 45 (and counting) Jimmy had always been a little slow in coming forward - but then he is a tortoise.

WHEN spring is in the air every young man's fancy turns to love. But at the age of 45 (and counting) Jimmy had always been a little slow in coming forward – but then he is a tortoise.

Being one of a species not built for speed, our Jimmy managed to get a spurt on the other day and made a positive bolt for pastures new in his search for a girlfriend – and got 300 yards!

Not one to have strayed much further than his own back garden before, Jimmy, kitted out in his best shell suit, went missing for nearly 24 hours causing his owners much anxiety and a sleepless night while he went out on the town.

Whether he found a girl, whispered sweet nothings in her shell-like, or pledged undying love may never be known, but Jimmy certainly had a smile on his face when he was returned to the family home in Felixstowe.

His owner, Carole Josey, has known Jimmy almost all of her 54 years since he was brought home by her mother Phyll Nordon in her bicycle basket.

"Mum knew the American boy who had Jimmy and as he was going back to the States with his family, he wanted to find a new home for him.

"The boy was called Jimmy and so mum named the tortoise after him and he has lived with us all that time in the same house. He had never wandered off before but he had been getting a little excited lately so we suspect a girl was involved," said Carole.

Although Jimmy was brought in to the family by Carole's 74-year-old mum, he really belonged to her dad, Doug Nordon who did all the "running" around after him.

"Dad died not so long ago and mum has been ill for many years and is now in a nursing home, so the thought of losing our long-term pal was so upsetting.

"He really is a little character and we love him to bits. Because tortoises are not easily come by these days we were worried he would fall in to the wrong hands and we'd never see him again," said a relieved Carole.

She and partner Bob Knights notified The Evening Star's Pet Patrol desk and put the word around the neighbourhood that Jimmy had gone stroll-about.

Neighbours joined them in a fingertip search of the area. After pining all night for their pet and wandering round the area first thing in the morning, they were delighted when two lads found him and brought him home.

"The boys found him on the edge of some grassland not very far away from the sea wall," said Bob.

"By our estimation he had only gone about 300 yards but he had been missing for about 20 hours."

A 300-yard trek is a long way for a tortoise but to do it over 20 hours is nothing in the life of such a

creature.

The oldest spur-thighed tortoise (which Jimmy is believed to be) was 126 years old when he died a few years back.

Jimmy could be many years older than thought as his birthday has only been estimated from the time Carole's mother brought him home in 1958.

Back home in the bosom of his loving family – which also includes eight cats – Jimmy was hand-fed cherries and the well-known aphrodisiac asparagus!

Carole hopes this love potion does not have the usual effect because Jimmy's pulling stint is over.

She and Bob have taken extra precautions by reinforcing security on his run.

The smile on his face now could soon be wiped off when he realises that whatever it was he got up to on his vacation is an experience unlikely to happen again.

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