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Freddie the Seal artwork
This soulful, poignant tribute to Freddie the Seal adorns an old door at the back of the London River Yacht Club on Queen’s Promenade opposite Raven’s Ait, Surbiton.
Freddie was a 10-month-old seal pup and a regular visitor to the Thames in January to March 2021. He was also an unintentional media star – both social and broadcast.
It’s not that unusual to see seals and dolphins in the Thames. Even whales have been known to venture upstream. In May 2021 a baby Minke whale made it’s way up past Barnes only to get itself stuck in Richmond lock. The river is 346km long and tidal from the Thames estuary right up to Teddington Lock (160km). But Freddie was a stand-out character who seemed to enjoy delighting the locals who named him after Freddie Mercury because of his crowd-pleasing abilities. He was often spotted fishing and basking on river banks between Barnes and Teddington but on February 20th 2021 observant residents notice Freddy was distressed. On closer inspection they could see he had a large fishhook caught in his mouth.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue and volunteers stepped in to rescue the pup, A coordinated operation in Teddington Lock resulted in the successful removal of the hook by TV vet Scott Miller. Apart from going viral on social media, Freddie also made news headlines and appeared on This Morning.
An electronic tag showed that Freddie had come from the Netherlands, via Calais. After TLC and antibiotics, he was released closer to the sea in the Thames Estuary.
Fast-forward to the 23rd of March and Freddie had made his way back up the Thames to Hammersmith. He was still pulling the crowds but, on this fateful day, while he was happily sunbathing on the shore he was attacked by a dog. His injuries were severe and though passersby, the BDMLR and South Essex Wildlife Hospital did all they could, it was decided that poor Freddy had to be put down.
Freddie didn’t actually make it up to Ravens Ait in his short life as it’s not that easy for to navigate Teddington Lock but this is a lovely tribute to this adventurous little pup.
‘Freddie’ is another example of the amazing, creative art popping up in and around Kingston.