Jay Leffew, 70, of Stuart Mantle Way, Erith, rides her mobility scooter to Bursted Woods up to three times a week, depending on the weather, to create the “guerrilla” wood carvings. She spends between two to three hours per visit chiselling away – a rat, a bird, an owl and many more animals have been made so far. Ms Leffew has received rave reviews from social media users after a woman posted a picture of her work on Facebook.
The retired gardener told explained: “I absorb myself while carving the animals – but I’m not used to this attention.
“I’ve started doing the animals as a hobby but also for everyone to enjoy.
“A group of schoolchildren came to look and I made them a map telling them how to find the carvings.
“It’s nice to be able to share them with people – I would love other carvers to join me.”
Ms Leffew only started carving the animals in Bursted Woods last year. After making her first animal, a rat, she continued providing joy to walkers by making nine further carvings.
She added: “There was a tree trunk that looked a bit like a rat and I thought ‘I can saw it off’ and then I started.
“No one told me off so I just carried on doing more – and that’s when it really started. I carved the rat last spring.
“I quietly get on with it, it’s not much at all – I just make sure that I don’t endanger other people while I’m doing it.”
Ms Leffew’s 70th birthday was on April 8 where her niece ordered her new carving tools – something which topped the wishlist.
She said: “I am currently on my 11th animal, a cocker spaniel, which is requiring a lot of wood to saw. I used to have that breed when I was a child.
“Apart from my sister-in-law and my niece, none of my family really know about it. I only have chisels but I’ll be very happy as soon as the gauges arrive.”
Sam Jones, from Belvedere, was the person who spotted the remarkable carvings while walking her dog.
She posted pictures of the animals on Facebook and that is when the rave reviews started to flow in.
The 50-year-old said: “I wondered who was doing them and when I came across the elderly woman carving the wood, I just thought they were brilliant.
“It’s great that she’s elderly and is trekking to the woods to do something she enjoys.”