Aireborough Historical Society

1958 Olly The Owl Part 7 The Finale

Ryan

Title
Olly The Owl
Date 1958
Location Guiseley
Photo ID
Written by Brian Firth
Comment Olly the Owl – The Finale.
Told to us by Brian Firth of Guiseley

I have had Olly for about 3 ½ years now, and there is a real bond and trust between us

He still enjoys our trips to the fields but is also totally relaxed around the house.
Most of my friends had budgies flying around the lounge, I had Olly. He was quite happy hopping around in the lounge, chair to chair, often pestering Kell as the dog tried to sleep.
We have some photos taken of Kell with Olly peeping around him, and others of Olly with Kell trying to get into the picture.

On this fateful day I put Olly in his box to go over to the fields for a bit of exercise.

As usual, there is always some neighbour that wants to look in the box and see him.
Just a normal day.

We had only been in the field for about 20 minutes. Olly was waiting in the trees, then he flew down to come to me. Suddenly, half way to me, he fluttered to the ground and just sat very still. I knew something was wrong and went over to him. He was just very quiet and sat looking at me.

I immediately put him in his box and took him home.

My mum and dad thought we should take him to the vets and get him checked.
As they got ready I sat on the lounge floor stroking his chest and talking to him.
He suddenly reared up on his legs and flapped his wings to stop himself falling backwards.
Just as I reached forward to get hold of him, he just went limp and fell forward into my hands.

And that was it, Olly was dead. I didn't even shout out to tell my mum, they just came in and found me holding him, with tears running down my face.
The vet told us at a later date that his little heart had probably just given up on him.

About an hour later my mum brought a shoe box in for me to put Olly in.
We had decided to bury him on my uncles allotment on Coach Road at Guiseley.

I decided to walk over to the allotment and called in at my aunties on the way to see if my cousin, Alan Broadwell, would go with me, which he agreed to do.
I deliberately walked the long way around, along Ghyll Royd where I had found Olly
We arrived at the allotment and dug a fairly deep hole. We then decided we would just have one more look at Olly before placing the box in the hole. I took him out of the box to hold for minute. However, when I went to put him back in he wouldn't fit. After a bit of a struggle I had to bend his head slightly to the side to get him in.

Job done and I walked home with lots of thoughts going through my mind.

That night I just couldn't get to sleep. I was up and down all night, shed enough tears to fill a bucket. My mum eventually came down to see if I was OK. She obviously thought I was just upset because Olly had died.
I then told her how I had taken him out of the box and had had to bend his neck to get him back in. Now I couldn't get it out of my mind that he would be forever laid with his neck bent.
At 7am that morning my mum and dad took me back to the allotment with a larger box.
We exhumed Olly and placed him in the larger box, after straightening his neck out, and re-buried him.

We dismantled his aviary that night, although I left the branches that formed his perches in the back garden for many months.

Our faithful old dog Kell lived until he was 18 years old, and became a bit of a character on the estate in his own right. However, I probably shed more tears over little Olly during his 3 ½ years than I did over Kell during his 18 years. And putting this down in writing hasn't helped.

OLLY, gone but not forgotten.

PS:
About a year ago I was returning from Airedale Hospital, driving a private ambulance.
As I drove along the Addingham bypass an owl flew across the road ahead of me.
Unfortunately, he misjudged it and bounced off the roof of the car in front of me.
It landed in the middle of the road with wings spread and looking at me ploughing down on him.
I quickly checked my mirror, no one behind me, and braked as hard as I could with safety.

I stopped only a yard or 2 from the owl and put the flashing blue lights on.
With the ambulance stopped in the middle of the highway I jumped out and quickly put the owl on the passenger seat and drove on until I found somewhere to pull in and check him over.
It had an obvious break to the leg, but seemed ok otherwise.

I took the owl back to my sisters house because her husband, Brian Triffitt, has a large aviary and bird cages in which he breeds budgies.

Ironically, Eileen still lives in the house where we grew up, Olly`s home. Although they haven`t had a coal fire for probably 40 years or more, the old coalhouse now being a fully functional utility room, she still calls it the ‘coalhouse’.

I got my medical kit out and put a splint and strapping on the owls leg. I also bound his wings to stop him trying to fly around. As with Olly we had a tribe of kids watching, Grandaughter Gracie, Grandsons Ryan & Liam and Great Nephews Harry and Elliot.
We gave the owl a drink of water and left him over night in the aviary.
Surprisingly, he was still alive in the morning. We called the RSPCA and arranged for someone to pick him up. Couldn't keep this one, a protected species now. Never heard if he survived or not.

The attached photo is of my grandson, Ryan Firth, with Olly the 2nd.

Brian Firth
December 2013

 

KenLee
KenLee
May I offer my thanks and congratulations to Brian for his story about Olly. Very well written and totally fascinating.
Monday, February 10, 2014
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