Published: 16:50, 15 July 2021
| Updated: 21:09, 15 July 2021
A couple from Sevenoaks who spent two months researching the life of a famous seal in lockdown have written a book about his adventures.
Alison Kelly, 39, and Matt Millard, 41, from Halstead became entranced by the story of the animal nicknamed Freddie Mercury who made the Thames his home in February.
The 10-month-old seal spent a few weeks in the water but sadly died in March after a devastating dog attack.
Having followed his story on the news, the pair used their time in lockdown to trace Freddie's history.
They soon discovered he had been on quite a journey in his short life and ended up collating their work into a book titled 'Freddie: Life of a Seal'.
Alison, a full-time writer and screenwriter, said: “We fell in love with Freddie. After he died, we started to wonder where he’d come from, we found out he’d been quite far, from the Netherlands, to a World War II beach in France and then to the UK.
"We were so saddened by the dog attack and couldn’t understand why it had happened and why seals didn’t have more protection. I think everybody was shocked because he’d become such a loved character."
When Freddie was two days old, he was first rescued in the Netherlands after being discovered on a beach without his mother.
Months later he was found in France and had lungworm removed before making his way to London.
During their research they spoke to the four wildlife organisations that rescued Freddie, members of the public who shared photos and anecdotes, and even interviewed the Port of London Authority worker, Nigel Conquest, who coordinated Freddie’s final rescue after the dog attack.
Matt, an actor, said: “Our aim with the book is to keep Freddie’s memory alive and hopefully, encourage the government to strengthen laws protecting seals. It would be great if they could make Freddie an Ambassador.
"It’s vital that legislation is changed now in order to strengthen protection of seals before that time. Otherwise we could see many more incidents like what happened to Freddie."
The educational book includes unseen photos as well as illustrations and information on what to do if you spot a seal.
Some of the proceeds from the book will go to four charities, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who rescued Freddie in London, South Essex Wildlife Hospital, where Freddie was taken after the dog attack, Zeehondencentrum, the seal sanctuary in the Netherlands and LPA du Calais, a wildlife organisation that found Freddie near Dunkirk in January.
They will shortly be releasing another book called “Duck Story: The Lost Eagle” which is a fictional story based on real-life animals from Kelsey Park in Beckenham near Bromley.
In April a seal named Bradley became an attraction in Maidstone after he became stuck in the River Medway.
Rescue attempts were launched, and all failed to free Bradley to the stretch downstream.
But, in the end Bradley made a break for it, swimming headlong into the lock and setting a course for the open sea.
Alison and Matt also have another book due to be released in the Autumn called “Bad Magic”.
It is the first in a series, and described as a darker Harry Potter set in places all over Kent.
An e-book of “Freddie: Life of a Seal” is now available on Amazon.
It will be available in hardback later this month.