Believe it or not, giraffes really do come in all shapes and sizes.

Ollie and his giraffeOllie and his giraffe

The long neck and distinctive colouring remains the same, but one inflatable local version contained an 11-year-old fundraising hero making a massive difference for Paignton Zoo.

Ollie Smale from Kingskerswell stepped into his inflatable giraffe for an epic walk from his home to Paignton Zoo, raising just shy of £1,400 for a the top Torbay attraction, and the amount raised is growing.

“It was a brilliant day for Ollie,” said mum Sian Smale.

“He set off at 9.30am with a load of people giving him encouragement as he left Kingskerswell.

Save Paignton ZooSave Paignton Zoo

“Ollie walked all the way down to Torquay seafront and then along the coast to Paignton Zoo. He was met at various points along the route by friends and family. There was also lots of encouragement from passers-by and cars beeping their horns.

“He took a collection bucket with him on the journey and raised £114 from people on the day. His overall grand total is currently £1,362 and donations are still coming in.”

Ollie, who will start at Newton Abbot College next month, had his mind set on a fundraising challenge with a difference, hence the inflatable giraffe.

“When he heard about Living Coast closing down, Ollie was really concerned and upset,” added Sian. “We were all worried about the future of the zoo and during lockdown, he was really determined to do something to help.

“It was completely his own idea and the whole journey took around three hours. We did have a stop at Paignton pier because there were so many people waving banners and cheering him on.

“Ollie has always loved giraffes and the inflatable version blows up while you’re inside. He wanted to make the walk a little more tricky and he actually bought the giraffe with some money he had saved.”