I was so glad to take part in this amazing event, the purpose of which was to highlight the dreadful plight of Asia’s remaining wild tigers. It’s estimated that there are only about 3,500 wild tigers left in the world today, which means that extinction looms for this most beautiful of creatures. There are more tigers in captivity than in the wild.
|At St Pancras International Station – Save the Wild Tigers
It was thanks to a tweet by Orion children’s author, Lauren St John, that I learned of the Tiny Tracks event – a children’s weekend amongst three weeks of Tiger Tracks events, and their call for authors to come along and read stories to children at St Pancras Station. I volunteered, thinking I’d be one of many and probably not chosen, so you can imagine how delighted I was to hear that they wanted me to do two sessions of stories!
|I wore my most camouflaged of outfits!
There had been a competition amongst local schools to create art work from recycled materials, with the theme “Tigers are not Rubbish!”, and we enjoyed looking at the entries. This one was particularly spectacular!
|Tiger made from recycled plastic milk bottles
I had originally offered to read from my battered childhood 1960s copy of Mowgli’s Stories, the source of the very popular Disney film, The Jungle Book. I have fond memories of my father reading this beautiful book to me, and of the huge colour plates that brought the magical Rudyard Kipling prose alive. But on closer inspection, fifty years later, I realised this was not suitable to read aloud to small children in public – not least because Shere Khan was an evil tiger who was killed by Mowgli, and skinned! Hardly the message that the Save the Wild Tiger campaigners wished to get across.
|Story time at St Pancras Station
I was pretty nervous about the whole event, to be honest. I had no idea what to expect as this wasn’t like a normal school visit or bookshop event. But the organisers were lovely – Lisa from Foyles Bookshop and Fiona from the company running the Tiger Tracks events – and once I’d got used to the noisy bustle of the place (Eurostar arriving for instance!), it was wonderful.
|A very interested pink tiger takes a peek!
The children who listened to the stories were great, as it must have been very difficult to concentrate with so much noise and distraction all around, including the never-ending station announcements about unattended luggage etc! The little girl in the picture above was very keen to see my copy of the book (Never Trust a Tiger by Lari Don) despite Lisa helpfully holding up larger pictures, and she kept knocking my microphone away in her efforts to climb up onto my lap!
|Bill Oddie read a story too!
It was great to meet another story-reader, Bill Oddie, and I wished I’d met some of the other celebrities who’ve taken part in the three weeks of Tiger Tracks events, including Brian May, Virginia McKenna and Joanna Lumley. It’s a great cause and so many people care about what’s happening to our precious wildlife. It was really sickening to see some of the displays in the station – stuffed tigers and tiger skins, all seized during raids on London houses. I didn’t take any pictures of these as they were too upsetting. I really cannot understand how anyone can kill for pleasure, nor want to display the carcasses from such a barbaric act.
Instead, I shall finish with a nicer photo of a very cuddly tiger – and do take a look at the amazing website of the Tiger Tracks people here. I was really proud to have taken part in this wonderful initiative. You can see more pics on my Facebook author page here.