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The lockdown craze that swept Bury St Edmunds and beyond - and it's still going strong

Hiding in the supermarket, riding on a bike, trying on sunglasses and even having a cheeky bottle of beer.

Some have got married, others came to a sticky end, and a few went back to their roots.

These are just some of the adventures of more than 700 Stick Pets circulating in Bury St Edmunds and beyond, entertaining children and parents alike.

Billy Wappett with his Stick Pet House. PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Billy Wappett with his Stick Pet House. PICTURE: Mecha Morton

The Stick Pets were made by martial arts instructor Billy Wappett, from Tollgate Lane, Bury St Edmunds.

And people love them.

"I just needed something to do during lockdown, so I made lots of Stick Pets,' said Billy, 62.

"It's something I have done for my children. The stick pets have big smiles and googly eyes and then my six kids would take selfies with them where ever they went.

"I thought it would be a nice idea to leave some outside my house and to help people connect during lockdown by posting their Stick Pet pictures on Facebook, too, whether their own, or the Stick Pet page, for people to like and comment.

"There are now more than 700 Stick Pets in circulation, as far away as Cambridge and Bristol."

Mr Snakey and Suki got married
Mr Snakey and Suki got married

Billy might be better known for teaching thousands of people martial arts through his club, Fighting Fit Martial Arts, Fitness and Self Defence Club.

He was forced to close the club, which he has run since 1983, in March, due to the pandemic.

“We do hope to reopen but it’s a very worrying time,” he said.

This Stick Pet had to go into surgery after losing an eye
This Stick Pet had to go into surgery after losing an eye

“I didn’t qualify for any help so have we have had to rely on my wife’s income to keep us going.

“While I wasn't working, I just wanted to do my bit for community spirit and thought the stick pets would be a good way for people to connect.

“People pick them up from the Stick Pet House at the end of my drive, for free, and they get up to adventures."

Oh dear
Oh dear

For Billy, wood working has been a life-long hobby.

"I am a bit of a wood nutter," he said.

“I collect the sticks while I am out running and pop them in a rucksack.

"People seem to enjoy sharing their Stick Pet stories and even stop me in the street now to say how much they love their new pets.

"I've just made another batch of 100."

Billy has also kept himself busy in other ways.

He made fairy doors and windows for youngsters to put on to tree trunks, logs benches for people to sit while socially distancing, hosted free self-defence and fitness videos online, organised a VE day street party and held weekly music sessions for neighbours, with the help of his daughter.

"During these strange times, it keeps me busy,' he said.

"Wood has character, so every Stick Pet is different.

"I am just glad I could do my bit for the community."

For even more pictures, visit the Stick Pets Facebook page here