ONE thing that a Winnersh man didn’t expect when the coronavirus lockdown was announced was to become a zookeeper.
Every day, Christopher Elvin can be spotted taking one of his menagerie out for an evening stroll.
His brood includes a flamingo called Agnes, a pig called Rasher and Dorothy the zebra. Oh, and there’s Sparkles the unicorn and Tommy the dinosaur.
Each of them is taken for some exercise from around 5pm daily, except for Sundays. Christopher and his colourful costumes brighten up people’s days on 12 set routes, each one starting from Sainsbury’s in Winnersh.
And it’s been so popular that he’s even started to take requests.
“It’s all wonderfully barmy and quintessentially English,” the 54-year-old IT genius says, with a twinkle in his eye.
“I want to put a smile on people’s faces and I’d seen someone wearing a dinosaur suit on the news, so I thought I could do something silly like that.
“It started with a flamingo suit and then a friend lent me a dinosaur.”
His collection is now eight-strong, with two new ones making their debut this week.
“My wife’s favourite is Rasher the pig, but for me it’s horses for course, I have no favourites,” he said.
“This week, we went to a home in Sadler’s Lane to help some three-year-old twins celebrate their birthday, it was the highlight of their day.”
And the costumes have been so popular that people wanted to support his efforts.
“People stopped us and asked if we were collecting money, so we’ve set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS foundation,” he explained.
He has set a target of £1,950 and already raised more than £700.
Has Christopher been storing these costumes for that rainy day? Quite the reverse.
“This is all new,” he said. “It is purely as a response to the current situation and allows me to let off steam.”
The Just Giving page, to make a donation, is at bit.ly/nhsflamingo