THE Thursday Friendship Group at Holsworthy Methodist Church had a whale of a time at a recent talk.

The guest speaker was retired local vet, Rupert Kirkwood – otherwise known as The Lone Kayaker – who took his audience on a whistle-stop wildlife safari around the south-west coasts, with some stunning film and photographs.

Forced to take early retirement from farm veterinary work after being injured, Rupert now combines his twin passions for wildlife and water – and to date has kayaked an amazing 32,485 miles around the world’s oceans and waterways.  

His lifelong love of natural history and the sea has taken him all around the South West coast from Poole to Minehead, and further afield to the Antarctic, Greenland, the USA, Mexico and Chile.

But it was the wonders of Westcountry wildlife that were on show to a large and fascinated audience at the Friendship Group, proving that there’s always something to see on the doorstep – or the water. 

We were treated to pin-sharp images – all taken from the kayak seat – of a kingfisher, puffins and gannets, little auk and guillemot.  There was an osprey eating a live sea bass; otters at play on the Torridge, a stoat ‘dancing’; close-ups of the cavernous jaws of a basking shark, and amazing film of a grey squirrel swimming across the Fowey estuary and finally scrambling bedraggled but safe onto dry land.

Larger film-star creatures included a 7ft, half-ton leatherback turtle spotted between the Isles of Scilly and Sennen; a giant Atlantic bluefin tuna near Dodman Point, various species of porpoise, dolphin and whale – and Nudger, the sociable Cornish grey seal who has bumped into Rupert near Looe more than once.

Rupert loves to go kayaking with friends and family - “everyone has a great time.” And there are rewards too for solo paddling. “When I am by myself I am completely engrossed in nature - the scenery is world class, there are creatures around you ... and the best thing is the silence.”

The Thursday Friendship Group meets weekly in the Bodmin Street Blue Room or chapel hall, from 2pm to 3.30pm, where everyone is welcome to come and share a cup of tea or coffee, a slice of cake and a chat.

 Guest speakers are regularly planned, along with games and quiz afternoons, and every third Thursday, there will be a short and informal act of worship, “Reflect and Refresh”, followed by refreshments.