Explorer of the Great Outdoors and Animal Rescuer

Lorcan McGirr, age 11, Co Fermanagh

Inspired by Little Foxes by Michael Murpurgo

Hi, remember me? Billy Bunch is the name. You may recall my rather sad start to life. Let’s face it - being left in a doorway of the police station is hardly the best start! However, I’m still here to tell the tale, and as you may remember, life turned out pretty well in the end!

I had a happy childhood with the ‘Boatman’ and his wife – the very best of everything and they encouraged me to follow my dreams and passions. As you all know, I have a love of all animals and spent the rest of my childhood nurturing animals of every kind. The stutter that bothered me for years never returned. While my speech improved, my love of school did not and I counted down the days until I was at last free from the four walls of the classroom.

I decided my classroom would be the great outdoors, and I made the decision on my last day at school that my work would be rescuing animals and protecting them from harm. I knew what a bit of love could do to help a broken heart and I wanted to repay this kindness to the animals all around me.

I started my business on a small scale, and over the years I have managed to build up a big team of helpers to carry on my work when I’m gone. I’ve been to the most amazing places in the world – yeah, me!! Poor wee Billy Bunch!!

I’ve seen the beauty of the toucan in the Amazon, the amazing sight of the beautiful snow leopard in the Himalayas, the fabulous ostrich running at the speed of light in the Sahara, and not forgetting the magnificent penguins in  Antarctica.

But my heart always took me back to my home. My whole life I have spent rescuing animals, and I can think of nothing else I would rather do. My work has involved many visits to schools where I could share my love of animals with the children in the hope of inspiring someone. I have spent hours telling stories and recounting my adventures to hundreds of children in the hope of even one of them taking up my work. There’s nothing better than seeing the look of wonder on the face of a child.

I remember one day a little boy about 10 years of age coming up to me and asking, “what was the most wonderful sight you have ever seen?” That was a tricky one. But after much thought, I had to go back to that day many years before, on my wonderful wilderness. The sight of those little foxes playing on the mound! That will be my most favourite sight for the rest of my life.  

As I near the end of my life, I can look back with pride and thanks in all I have achieved. I am proof that even a bad start can turn out just right.