A former gamekeeper who once worked on Suffolk estates has turned his lifelong wood-carving hobby into a business.

Brian Heath of Debenham has launched his start-up business - Wildlife Creations in Wood - at Stonham Barns Park retail village.

He used to work for the late John Keeble at Brantham Hall Farm near Manningtree who inspired his interest in the skill.

"He would bring his work to the field to show me what he had created," explained Brian. He was "a very talented man with a huge interest in wildlife", he added.

East Anglian Daily Times:

"It was his influence that started my own passion for making wildlife creations in wood."

Brian was 17 when he started working on the same farm at Brantham that employed his dad - who was a maintenance worker.

As a young boy Brian had a strong interest in nature and wildlife which continued into adulthood.

East Anglian Daily Times:

"I had always been interested in birds from an early age. I kept ornamental ducks at my family home," he said.

"I was also quite skilled with wood, and so I thought I would see if I could pick up the basics of the craft of wood carving at some workshops.

"The first one I signed up for taught me how to create the texture of feathering and after that I was hooked."

Brian went on to work at Stutton Hall - another estate on the Shotley Peninsula overlooking the Stour estuary. From there he could watch wading birds and shore birds.

East Anglian Daily Times:

"I loved my time as a gamekeeper as it gave me the opportunity to study birds and animals in their natural habitat; and the time I spent observing wildlife has paid off in terms of my wood creations," he said.

The lifelong hobby turned into a small business. He started by creating gifts for family and friends - and began to get sales and commissions from people who loved his work.

"The business just developed organically. I thought I might as well do something I enjoy and produce wildlife gifts and creations that people will treasure," he said.

"I’ve been so much busier than I expected and that must mean that I am doing something right."

East Anglian Daily Times:

Carving wood gave him a chance to work with his hands - and indoors.

"After a long time of working outside in all weathers I do love to focus on creating beautiful objects in wood from the comfort of my new workshop," he admitted.

Brian has been supported by wife Sara and his daughter and son who live locally and help with aspects of the business including graphic design and social media.

Brian has created a wide range of bird carvings including pheasants, partridges, owls, eagle owls and other birds of prey, kingfishers, songbirds, wax wings, waders and shore birds. These can fetch anything from £120 to £500 for larger pieces.

He is now adding other animals to his portfolio - including a stoat and various dogs including a Dachshund. He has even been commissioned to carve a cobra.