In 1991, I dedicated my second book, Extraordinary Animals Worldwide, to my mother, with the following words:
To my mother, Mary D. Shuker, whose lifelong interest in wildlife has guided and encouraged my own since my earliest days.
“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”
Henry Ward Beecher, Life Thoughts
Every word of this is true – without her gentle, ever-encouraging presence and guidance, I would not be the person I am today. Even my career in cryptozoology can be traced directly back to that life-changing day when she purchased as a birthday present for me (by then an early teenager) from Boots in Walsall, West Midlands, the Paladin paperback edition (1972 reprint) of Dr Bernard Heuvelmans’s classic book On the Track of Unknown Animals.
And so it is with great joy, pride, and thankfulness that on this very special day, 29 January 2011, I am celebrating with my mother her 90th birthday!
Happy birthday Mom – I love you very much!!