In 1973 I was asked by the World Wildlife Fund to breed some lynxes for a re-introduction scheme in the Vosges mountains in France.
In June one of the resident lynxes produced a litter of three kittens. When I inspected her compound early the next morning, I found a tiny, wet, bedraggled kitten in the outside enclosure.
I rated its chances of survival as nil but as it was not quite dead I put it down my shirt and took it back home. I put it in a box and put it on top of the aga. My wife watched over it whilst I did a very rapid 70 miles round trip to get some feline cat milk substitute.
Arriving back home I was very surprised to find the tiny kitten still alive but it was still relatively motionless. The kitten was very weak and trying to get it to take any milk was difficult. After 9 days of very intensive care things started to improve. We decided to give him a name… Harvey.
A month later he was toddling round the house ignoring my collie dogs. This was the beginning of one of the most amazing experiences of my life. He became our house cat. Harvey and I developed a fascinating relationship, he lived with my family for thirteen years during which I became part lynx and Harvey half human. I learned so much from Harvey including lynx greetings which are similar to those of the house cats of today, bumping heads and purring loudly.
My son and I were lucky enough to have some very active bouts of play fighting with Harvey. To be so close to a wild animal was an unbelievable experience.
Harvey sadly died in his thirteenth year, and I was truly devastated. He had given so much, and I still remember him with great affection. His name crops up from time to time even after all these years and when I see the photograph below I can't help but see much more than a man and his lynx.
I promised Harvey a memorial, a life-size sculpture which would become a family heirloom. At that stage I had never sculpted anything, so I began teaching myself. I enjoyed it so much it would go on to become a very fulfilling hobby of mine, one which I would go on to do professionally as you all now know.
I made several attempts to sculpt Harvey’s memorial, but I didn’t make one worthy of him. After all these years I think I have created one that Harvey would have approved of. The one you can see today is an original which will go to the foundry soon to be cast in resin.
I would love for you all to come and see the sculpture once it’s cast.