Tom Leppard, tattooed man – obituary


Tom Leppard, who has died aged 80, was an ex-soldier who grew to become often known as the Leopard Man of Skye after he coated 99.2 (or by some accounts 99.9) per cent of his physique with tattooed spots to make himself seem like a giant cat, and moved to the Scottish island the place, for 20 years, he lived like a hermit in a “cave” he constructed on the foundations of a ruined croft.

In 2001 Leppard (whose actual title has been variously listed as Woolridge, Wooldridge or Woodridge), was recognised by the Guinness E book of Information as essentially the most tattooed man on Earth. Though he subsequently misplaced that title to Fortunate Diamond Wealthy from New Zealand, he retained the title of most tattooed male senior citizen.

Leppard’s total physique, aside from the insides of his ears and in between his toes, was coated in a saffron yellow design flecked with black spots. Even his eyelids had been tattooed with piercing blue-green feline irises. To finish the leopard look, he had a set of fangs custom-made by a dentist.

He would typically be photographed with nothing on besides a small pouch to protect his modesty – besides that it was additionally coated in leopard spots in order that he appeared like being fully bare.

His derelict bothy beside Loch na Beiste had no home windows, electrical energy, heating or gasoline. The thatch had rotted away, and his makeshift metallic sheet roof wouldn’t allow him to face upright. He slept on a mattress produced from polystyrene board and cooked on a Primus range, heating up tins of baked beans or ratatouille purchased on weekly 5-mile spherical journeys by kayak to the mainland. For 20 years he coped with freezing winters and plagues of midges in summer time, however he insisted that life on the island suited him nicely.

The Leopard Man lived an apparently innocent existence and, although he claimed to not like individuals, seemed to be remarkably in style among the many locals. Subsequently it got here as one thing of a shock in 2001 when it was revealed {that a} self-proclaimed vampire known as Manuela Ruda, aka the “Bride of Devil”, then on trial for homicide in Germany after sacrificing a person on an oak coffin in entrance of an altar of skulls, had stayed with him throughout a vacation in Scotland in 1996, claiming that she had been taught to worship the satan and drink blood throughout her go to.

Manuela Ruda was later convicted, and Leppard was appalled by the suggestion that he may need impressed her actions.

“She expressed an curiosity in me and instructed me she wished to return and go to,” he instructed The Observer. “She appeared like an peculiar teenager.”  He stoutly denied any satanic proclivities, explaining that he was a Catholic who prayed for 3 hours daily.

There may be some thriller about Leppard’s adolescence, however evidently he was born on October 14 1935, both in London or Suffolk.

Earlier than his transfer to Skye, he spent practically 30 years of his life in navy service, first within the Royal Navy, which he joined aged 15, and later as a color sergeant within the Rhodesian particular forces. “I used to be based mostly for a time within the Zambezi Valley which was the largest open zoo on the earth,” he recalled. “There have been all types of animals there. Lions, elephants and giraffes, however no leopards.’

Interviewed in 2001, Leppard defined that after leaving the miltary, he discovered it tough to combine with peculiar individuals: “I made a decision I wished to be the largest of one thing, the one one in every of one thing. It needed to be a tattoo… I believed if I get the largest of one thing and stay in a wierd approach individuals would possibly pay me.” The tattoos, etched on to his physique over 18 months within the mid-Eighties, price £5,500.

He selected leopard spots not due to an curiosity in cats, however as a result of they had been straightforward for a tattoo artist to do: “It was a essential evil to complement my revenue assist, or latterly my pension.” Regardless of his tattoos, Leppard felt “no affinity with leopards”.

In 2008, Leppard packed all his possessions into a few bin luggage and moved right into a care dwelling in Inverness, admitting that he was getting too previous for the weekly canoe journey to gather his buying.

Tom Leppard, born October 14 1935, died June 12 2016


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