Gamekeeper turned wood carver makes business out of lifelong hobby

Wildlife Creations in Wood is a new start up business for the retail village at Stonham Barns Park – one of Suffolk’s premier leisure, retail and holiday venues.

The business which has been a few years in the making is the result of a lifelong hobby that has naturally developed into a commercial activity with the recent addition of a shop at the Stonham Aspal based shopping village.

The creative business idea of Brian Heath – a former gamekeeper – it showcases his phenomenal talent for wood carving, a skill he learned from the landowner of an estate he worked on managing the birds and animals while also maintaining their habitats.

Wildlife Creations in Wood focuses on a wide range of bird carvings including pheasants, partridges, owls, eagle owls and other birds of prey, kingfishers, songbirds, wax wings, waders and shore birds.  As well as featuring birds, Brian is adding animals to his portfolio.  So far he has carved a stoat and he creates dogs in wood too – a Dachshund most recently – and he has also had a commission for a Cobra snake! 

He has found the retail village works with his new business launch as he is in the company of over 40 other creative business and in the same location as the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary which is home to more than 80 owls and other birds of prey which attracts wildlife enthusiasts from all over the UK.

Brian, from Debenham, worked for the late John Keeble at Brantham Hall Farm who kicked off his interest in wood carvings.  ‘He would bring his work to the field to show me what he had created.  A very talented man with a huge interest in wildlife and it was his influence that started my own passion for making wildlife creations in wood.’

Brian was 17 when he started working on the farm which began his journey as a gamekeeper.

‘I had always been interested in birds from an early age.  I kept ornamental ducks at my family home.  I was also quite skilled with wood, and so I thought I would see if I could pick up the basics of the craft of wood carving at some workshops.  The first one I signed up for taught me how to create the texture of feathering and after that I was hooked!’

My father was a maintenance worker on the same farm and so my interest in nature and wildlife was always going to be there.  I loved my time as a gamekeeper as it gave me the opportunity to study birds and animals in their natural habitat; and the time I spent observing wildlife has paid off in terms of my wood creations.’

Brian also worked at Stutton Hall, an estate overlooking the Stour estuary, where he could watch wading birds and shore birds. ‘It has been a lifelong hobby which I have now turned into a small business as I have moved on from giving gifts to family and friends to getting sales and commissions from people who are captivated by the work that I do.’

He is most happy working with his hands and is in awe of the tactile and visual qualities of wood. He says, ‘After a long time of working outside in all weathers I do love to focus on creating beautiful objects in wood from the comfort of my new workshop!’

‘The business just developed organically.  I thought I might as well do something I enjoy and produce wildlife gifts and creations that people will treasure.  I’ve been so much busier than I expected and that must mean that I am doing something right!’

Brian has the backing of his wife Sara and his daughter and son who live locally and help with some aspects of the business including graphic design and social media.

His carvings range from £120 to £500 for larger pieces.

Wildlife creations in wood logo

For further information contact Brian Heath at Wildlife Creations in Wood on 07917 012 617.

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Stonham Barns Park is a bustling family complex offering accommodation, attractions and activities based in the heart of Suffolk, UK. Activities at the leisure, retail and holiday venue include The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, Café 24 Restaurant, Legends Sports Bar, The Golf Centre, The Teapot Pottery, holiday lodges, a caravan park, camping and glamping and fishing lakes.

Stonham Barns Park has been serving the community of Suffolk since it first opened in 1987 and is still as much a family destination as it was when it first opened, and it is now becoming a more prominent part of Suffolk tourism which is growing exponentially year on year.  Stonham Barns Park itself welcomes many visitors from all over the UK – particularly from London, the South-East and from as far away as The North and Scotland.