A new statue has been unveiled in Islington Green, London, celebrating the life and legacy of the one and only Street Cat Bob.
The foundry bronze statue of the inspirational feline was crowd funded by supporters across the globe to share his story of hope and that no one is alone.
The world-famous ginger cat became a star as the subject of the best-selling book (published in 2012), and later two films (released in 2016 and 2020), A Street Cat Named Bob, chronicling the heart-warming and inspirational true story of the stray who helped James Bowen rebuild his life after finding himself homeless and recovering from drug addiction.
James first met Bob in 2007, when he discovered the street cat injured and abandoned. He nursed him back to health and, with the help of pet charity Blue Cross providing regular health checks microchipping him, they became inseparable. Busking and selling The Big Issue near Islington Green, where Bob would often be seen wearing a knitted scarf and, unusually for a cat, would sometimes be seated on James’s shoulder. Bob brought purpose to James’ life, spurring him on to become a successful author, through telling the tale of their journey together and building an adoring following.
Tragically, Bob the Cat passed away in June 2020, but his story and character touched hearts all over the world. Now Bob lives on, immortalised as a statue in Islington Green for all to enjoy.
Created by sculptor Tanya Russell, the life size statue of Bob is positioned on an Aberdeenshire Scottish granite bench in Islington Green, overlooking the Waterstones bookstore, a key location in Bob and James’ story, as it’s where James wrote his first book recounting their journey together.
At the official unveiling today, which was live streamed across the world, emotional tributes were given from both James Bowen and Mark Bossley, Chief Veterinary Surgeon at Blue Cross, who treated Bob and whose animal hospitals provide treatment and care for the pets of owners who are on means tested benefits.
James Bowen, commenting on the tribute said: “I am so incredibly proud of Bob and grateful for the time we shared. He enriched my life from the moment I met him. He saved me and he touched the lives of millions, providing optimism to people across the world. My extraordinary four-legged friend has inspired books, films and now this wonderful statue.
“Today has been incredibly emotional. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped to ensure his legacy lives on. From the legions of supporters who have donated in many different ways to make this tribute possible to Tanya for her remarkable sculpture and to Islington Council for enabling this memorial in such a special place, which holds so many important memories in our journey together.
Bob was my best friend and my teacher and represents that we are all stronger together. He will always be my constant companion through life. My hope is that when people visit Bob’s statue, or as they simply pass by, that they will take a moment to remember that everyone deserves a second chance and that no-one is alone.”
Mark Bossley said: “We are glad that we were able to be there for James and Bob, making sure Bob was in the best of health. And we are so grateful for their continued support for Blue Cross, the funds and awareness that James and Bob went on to raise for our charity has helped countless other pets. The statue really is a wonderful tribute to a truly remarkable cat.”
Paul McNamee, Editor of The Big Issue, said: “Never has there been a cat so loved, not only by James and all of us at The Big Issue but millions of people around the world. It is, therefore, only right that Bob should be honoured in this way, close to where the story all began, by James’ Big Issue pitch in Islington. We applaud Bob’s loyal fan club and talented sculptor, Tanya Russell for making it all possible.”
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “Many local people fondly remember Street Cat Bob, the cat from Angel who became known all around the world. Islington’s new Street Cat Bob bench will give local residents and visitors somewhere to sit and enjoy our park, and we’d like to thank everyone who funded the bench, including Street Cat Bob fans around the world.”
For more information you can visit www.streetcatbob.com