Army veterans are being offered the chance to go out with a bang after a military enthusiast built a hearse - out of a tank.
Nick Mead, who owns Tanks-A-Lot in Helmdon, spent six months converting the shell of a FV432 armoured personnel carrier into a funeral car in order to give deceased servicemen the perfect send-off.
The 54-year-old splashed out £3,000 on the tank hull, refurbishing the vehicle with armoured glass and installing the interior of a Ford Granada Cardinal hearse.
He has now teamed up with a funeral directors to offer war veterans families the opportunity for their loved-one’s final journey to be in fitting style.
Nick said: “I think it will appeal not only to servicemen and women but to tank enthusiasts - as well as extroverts.
“It is an iconic British Army vehicle which has seen service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We would like to think any army veteran would be honoured to go to his funeral in such a magnificent tank.”
Nick began creating the “tankhearse” three years ago because he knew he wanted his own final trip to be in a tank.
But when he discovered his tank-driving instructor Graham Collins was critically ill with cancer he sped up the project - just in time for the 70-year-old’s funeral.
The dad-of-two added: “I cracked on with it and I’ve never known a project come together so quickly.
“The most important thing was for his final trip to be in a tank. I hope I did the old boy proud.
“The funeral was rammed and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Graham was a Sean Connery figure, a real hit with the ladies.”
Nick’s company Tanks-A-Lot has performed six funerals with the vehicle, which costs £1,500 to hire, plus the cost of haulage to the location.
Nick, a former butcher who sold the family shop to work with tanks 20 years ago, even sent his mum, Ivy, off in his creation when she died aged 90 of natural causes.
He said: “I’m not sure if she was a big fan of tanks.
“But your mum’s always a fan of you isn’t she? So we had a go and it was perfect.”
Funeral manager Simon Fisher, from Midcounties Co-operative Funeralcare which has teamed up with Tanks-A-Lot, said: “We aim to take all requests into account and I’ve no doubt that Tankhearse will appeal to tank enthusiasts who want to make a last trip in one of the iconic vehicles they love so much.”
>The FV432 armoured personnel carrier was first used by the British Army in the 1960s for moving troops on the battlefield.
>The model has seen service in the harsh environments of both Afghanistan and Iraq.
>At their peak, in the 1980s, more than 2,500 FV432s were in use by the Army, but that number has now fallen to 1,500 as updated carriers replace older vehicles.
>Second hand models are popular with enthusiasts due to their relative low cost, compared to other military vehicles.