An era is about to end at the New Forest Show as Mike Freeborn, who has attended every event since 1966, makes his last trade stand visit this year.
Mike, who started work for Criterion Garages, then the city’s Citroen dealership, in 1960 founded Freeborn Citroen in Southampton in February 1980, in Rochester Street, not far from where he began his career at Criterion.
“I started in the Criterion workshop but when I lost a finger playing football in 1972 I had to change to the parts department because of working with oil,” he explained. A year later he became a director of the company but then decided to start his own venture
“I sold Freeborn Citroen to the current management team in 1990 but was invited to stay on – so I have never left and have no plans to do so even though I’m now 75,” says Mike, who has fulfilled a variety of positions, including that of dealer principal.
“I like going to the New Forest Show to meet customers and I see it as the pinnacle of the South Coast events calendar. The way it is organised is superb.”
A cage bird enthusiast who is a renowned authority and show judge of budgerigars, an enthusiasm sparked by the council aviaries in Southampton when he was a child, Mike says he will continue to visit the New Forest Show as long as there is a bird pavilion to visit.
“I have rebuilt my collection after all my birds were stolen, bar one, in a raid on my home two years ago,” says Mike. “Although I will retire from event judging later this year my enthusiasm for the hobby matches that for cars so I’ll keep on with it, just as I plan to carry on working.”