It was a beautiful crisp, sunny day in April when I went to see Steve Mabbutt. He had kindly set aside time from his holiday preparations to talk to me about his latest and proudest number plate acquisition, M488 UTT. Early the following day he was due to fly out to Barbados to watch the Cricket World Cup Final between Australia and Sri Lanka, which we now know was won by Australia.
We met up at the car park of the Jetski Lake at Billing Aquadrome near Northampton. Steve, a good-looking, suntanned figure of a man, is one of seven children who spent a lot of their early years at the lakes. His family had regularly visited them over a period of 20 years and loved it so much that five years ago they finally bought their own homes there. Steve’s mum Susan, who came along on the day, recalls Billing being a great place for the children because it is a beautifully quiet location where they had the freedom to play safely. She even recalled how her husband Ron used to relax by fishing off the chalet verandah whilst watching television. Now that’s relaxing!
At the tender age of 16 Steve joined the navy. He said, of his seven years service, “I loved every minute of it, although I was a little disappointed I never got to visit America”. To rectify that omission he has just arranged a holiday in Las Vegas later this year.
Steve’s interest in personal number plates started back in 1997 when he purchased B16 MAB and put it on a red Mazda MX3. It has since been transferred to his company car, a Vauxhall Frontera Sport. That early interest in number plates came from his late father, Ron, who has since passed away, who had always wanted a personal number plate but never got round to it. Steve thought it would be a good idea to get one for Susan when his father died.
He told her he had got her something special but teased her a little before finally telling her that he had boughtMR55 MAB (Mrs Mab). Susan remembered the occasion and how one of her other sons commented that it was “as much use as a chocolate teapot”. He was obviously not a big number plate fan. However, Sue was extremely pleased, especially as Steve told her that she had to have a new car to go with it. She is now very proud to be seen out and about sporting the registration on her new Hyundi Trajet.
“I feels it’s a little of Ron with me”, she says, “and a great comfort”.
One of his brothers, Zeke, used to own X2 EKE (X Zeke), which he got for his 21st birthday. But although he really loved it, he reluctantly had to let it go when he needed extra money for his wedding.
Steve’s interest in number plates continued and he eventually found his ultimate registration M488 UTT for sale at Regtransfers. Initially he just couldn’t justify buying it but made a point of keeping his eye on it over the next two years. Once his business became a success he was able to purchase the registration. “The transfer was quick and straightforward and the back up service was great”, he said. Mind you there was a time when he nearly bought 5 MAB but the seller pulled out at the last minute – which was a bit of a blessing as it turned out. He regularly receives updates of suitable number plates from Regtransfers and has been tempted on many an occasion to expand his number plate portfolio.
Buying the M488 UTT registration was possible because of the success of his year-old company,Repossession Rescue which helps people in danger of losing their homes due to financial difficulty. Repossession Rescue offers advice and services such as organising a sales and rent back solution through responsible local landlords. When circumstances improve customers can then buy the property back.
This timely intervention has meant that Steve’s company have saved the homes of 75 families (including 104 children) thus avoiding the trauma of having to move and start again from scratch. He is now so well respected that he has three mortgage lenders recommending his services.
Steve and his mum are popular figures around Billing Aquadrome and their number plates have prompted many a comment, some of which were mickey-taking but, in the main, they have been complimentary. One thing I noticed whilst there was the number of cars going by that had personal registrations. It looks like he and his family have really started something in this Northamptonshire lake district.