When I volunteered to co-ordinate Shell Day 2 last September I got an email from a 16 year old teenager, Olly Tyler, who asked if he could attend the protest wearing his £600 chicken costume. I had requested for people to turn up in ‘fancy-dress’ but this request took me a little by surprise. He enclosed a photo of him in his colourful and lush 7ft chicken costume outside a KFC in Trowbridge where he had staged a 7 hour, one man, protest against the company's cruelty to chickens. I replied saying that I couldn’t see a direct link between chickens, oil companies and the Arctic, but by all means come and join us. And he did – joining us at the bottom of the busy M32 waving, strutting and dancing for two hours with one of our Stop Shell placards. Olly’s presence was so memorable and random that it just had to be mentioned in the blog of our event and it helped explain the inclusion of a 7ft chicken in our group photos. Sightings of a giant chicken on the M32 were relayed from GPHQ!
A few days later Olly proudly posted that he had received a ‘compassionate teenager’ award from animal rights charity PETA. In November Olly joined us again at Totterdown’s Art Trail to campaign for Save The Arctic. To explain his presence we dubbed him the Arctic Chicken – a very, very rare beastie from the North Pole and another reason why we should protect the Arctic environment! Olly started to become a bit of a legend, especially as no one knew what he looked like. All we knew was that he travelled on the train from Bradford-on-Avon, turned up at events in his costume, did his campaigning for us and then walked away wearing the chicken suit. All very mysterious … until he joined our Facebook page and we could see the face of who was hiding in the costume! I think we all became in awe of such a young person who showed commitment towards peaceful campaigning and the fact that he had a super-duper costume - which I suspect is more than a little envied by a couple of our members!
Of course Olly joined the Save The Arctic campaign and he instantly took up the challenge of the online Arctic Rising game where you acquire points for people visiting your individual Arctic Rising page. One way or another he has got to first place on the Leaderboard with currently over 217,000 points. This means he has the chance to travel to the Arctic with the symbolic Flag for the Future and the millions of names of Arctic Defenders from around the world who have signed the online petition. The plan is to lower these items in a time capsule to the sea bed of the Arctic and will signal the start of the process to get the Arctic declared a global sanctuary with UN backing.
But Olly has really hit the headlines recently when just before Xmas he decided to return to the Trowbridge KFC and resume some animal rights campaigning against the company. Olly found himself the focus of attention, but this time it was from unsympathetic customers who threw chicken nuggets and tomato sauce at him, one person punched him in the head and two other guys passing in a car joined in by rugby tackling the giant chicken to the ground! Luckily the padding from the suit meant that Olly was not harmed, but he had to abandon his protest through fear of more serious violence. The local Wiltshire paper reported the incident and it has since been picked up by many of the nationals including The Sun, The Daily Mail, Guardian and The Sunday Times no less. All have used unforgiveable puns such as The Sun’s ‘Grieviously Birdily Harm’, but more importantly many of the newspapers have mentioned Greenpeace and the Save the Arctic campaign!
In addition to the newspaper coverage, comedian, Jack Whitehall, has tweeted about Olly's exploits and the story got a mention on the Jonathan Ross chat show last night.
We just wanted to put on record that we applaud the courage of such a young person like Olly to have the conviction of their beliefs and to engage in peaceful protest in order to change things for the better. We congratulate him on his current achievements and encourage him to continue with his actions in the future regardless of other people’s views. We also thank him for plugging Greenpeace. He realises that campaigning in a group is much safer … and more fun! We certainly look forward to seeing him and his chicken costume in Bristol at our next opportunity to Give Shell Hell in February. Well done Olly!