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Folkestone's Ian Creighton: 'I own the vintage 1979 Mini police Panda that makes you smile'

By Sean Axtell

Many depression sufferers temper their symptoms with therapy... but one father’s cure comes from driving his vintage police car on Kent’s roads.

With working sirens and blue lights and all, this 1979 Mini-Cooper police Panda has perplexed Folkestone’s town’s people for years.  

Often spotted by the harbour arm and Castle Hill Avenue, questions swirl over its road-worthiness, whether it’s legal, and indeed, who owns it.

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

The Express can reveal it is the “pride and joy” of Ian Creighton, 52, of Castle Hill Avenue, and he calls her ‘Polly.’

Mr Creighton, who worked in removals before becoming clinically depressed, for the first time lifted the lid on his peculiar mode of transport.

 He said: “Just listening to this engine purring along brings a huge smile to my face.

“I suffer from clinical depression, and it’s important to talk about these issues to raise awareness and break down taboos.”

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

His symptoms became unmanageable following a turbulent relationship break-up in October last year.  

It rendered him housebound and uncontrollably anxious.

He added: “With the help of staff from Folkestone’s Mermaid cafe and my pride and joy ‘Polly’, I’m becoming much better.

“The smile it puts on my face is priceless, and the smile it puts on the faces of people who see it is amazing.

“There could be someone who has had a hard day, and when they see the car it brings a smile to their face.

“The car is as much for other people as it is for me.”

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

Bought for £2,000 from an ex-client near Brighton three-years-ago, Mr Creighton has since been offered £40,000 for the car, which he claims is “the last original Panda.”

But he wouldn’t sell it - “Not even for a million pounds.”

Decommissioned by Wales Police in 1982, ‘Polly’ was once used by a top police boss.

And she is allowed on the road providing the blue light is covered.

Made up entirely from original parts, the familiar light-blue and white Mini, which has done just 54,000 miles, still has a working search light, part of its radio and two-tone horn.

And the car has attracted plenty of police attention, but is hasn’t all been negative, said Mr Creighton.

 

 Many Kent Police officers wave to him as he drives - others even enjoy having their photos taken with the 1000cc car.

But he was once flagged down and given a stern word for ‘impersonating a police officer’, Mr Creighton claims.

He said: “I was taking a friend for a ride down to Hythe and a young police officer told me I had to cover it up.

“His colleague was behind him just shaking his head – they let me off.”

After making “vast improvements” in his mental health, the car will now be available to hire.  

Weddings, parties, films and funerals are just some of the events he intends to cover.

For more information call 0744 9845926.

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

Ian Creighton with his 1979 Police Mini Panda

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