They’re shell mates!

IPSWICH: He was lonesome for weeks after his only companion was taken away, but through an act of generosity a tortoise has made a new friend at a garden centre.

Workers at Victoria Nurseries were left heartbroken after a 15-year-old Mediterranean Spur-thighed tortoise was pinched from the centre in August – leaving her male friend shell-shocked.

It was the second time the unnamed reptile had been stolen from the nursery in Kettlebaston Way.

In 2006, she sparked a police hunt when she was snatched from the pen along with her partner.

On that occasion, an anonymous caller contacted the garden centre soon after and arranged their safe return.

However, staff were all jumping for joy today after a kind-hearted Suffolk resident stepped up and donated a Sulcata tortoise, worth �750.

Wendy Matthews, who looks after the tortoises at the centre, was delighted by the presence of the new arrival.

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“We were looking into buying a new one to keep our lonely male tortoise happy.

“After a couple of days, Simon Gill generously offered us one and I just could not believe it. I am completely delighted because our male has been exceptionally lonely and he has just been plodding along.”

Mr Gill, who breeds tortoises at his Barham home, told The Evening Star that he was pleased to see the lonely tortoise roaming around with his new companion.

“When I first heard about the story, I thought it was a shameful and disgraceful act,” said Mr Gill, who has breed more than 100 tortoises.

“They become very lonely, especially when they are used to having a companion.

“Tortoises grow very attached to each other and they like to follow each other around, so when I heard that one had been left alone, I can only imagine how confused he must have been. It was my pleasure to donate it.”

n Tell us about your acts of generosity. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail evening