Published: 00:00, 23 May 2003
ONE of Kent’s leading animal rights campaigners, Peter Back, of Linton, near Maidstone has died following a brief illness. He was 80.
Mr Back made headlines with his fight to save a group of wild animals seized from a bankrupt circus by Maidstone council in 1987. His campaign focused on the former circus lion Pagan.
Mr Back paid for Pagan’s keep at Longleat Wild Life Park while a fund raising campaign was launched, culminating in three lions, including Pagan, being moved to the Big Cat Sanctuary run by Malcolm Dudding at Smarden.
Following retirement from the family firm of Alan Firmin Ltd of Linton, Mr Back threw his energies into fundraising on behalf of the Cat Protection League.
Over a 17-year period under his chairmanship, hundreds of cats in the Maidstone and Weald areas were saved from ill-treatment and re-homed with caring families.
A talented artist, he and a cabinet-maker friend, Mr. Chris Hoad of Marden, built a replica Dutch street organ, which Mr Back toured to shows throughout the county fund raising for the CPL.
His artistic skills and a wicked wit also regularly appeared in the annual Firmin Almanac, illustrated with his sharply drawn and perceptive cartoons.
His sense of fun was slightly unconventional and, in the early 70s, readers of the Kent Messenger were entertained by a make-believe correspondence campaign via the letters column promoting the existence of the Tovil Treacle Mines.
Mr Back died last weekend at Maidstone Hospital. He was educated at the Judd School, Tonbridge, served with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
He leaves a widow, Heather, and daughters Lorely and Nicola.