A YOUNG falconer who had to move out of his parents’ house after they ran out of space for his birds of prey collection is flying high after starting his own business in Stourport.
Matthew Harvey, 21, has been fanatical about birds of prey since he first saw a falconry display at the age of eight, and houses a collection of 25 owls, falcons and hawks at his home in Dunley.
He has now realised his dream by setting up Stay Free Falconry, a company offering educational visits and birds of prey experience days to the local community.
The former Stourport High School pupil said: “I was about eight years old when I went to Telford and there was a falconry display there and ever since that I’ve just been hooked on birds of prey.
“When I was 10, I had a bird bought for me for my birthday. I used to watch DVDs and films and read books to teach myself how to keep them.
“My parents have always encouraged me - they’ve helped me out with buying more birds over the years and they’ve travelled all over the country just so I could help out doing displays.
“As a child, I used to have a lot of hobbies. I started football - that lasted about two weeks, I used to do karate and that lasted about six weeks but I’ve always had a passion for birds of prey.
“When I passed my driving test, my parents bought me a van instead of a car, which I use to transport the birds. The only reason I live where I do now is because of the birds.”
When Mr Harvey was still living with his parents in Stourport, he used to fly his birds at Memorial Park and said people would wait for him with their children to see the free display.
He added: “I hope to encourage and teach young children and older people. Birds of prey are a big part of our heritage.
“It’s the oldest sport in the world and before guns people would go out hunting with birds of prey.”
Mr Harvey also uses his skills to rescue birds and has been called by local wildlife officers a number of times to see if he can offer the creatures a good home.
Although he is happy to help, he receives no funding for helping to rescue them.
He added: “To have it start off as a hobby and then for it to become my job, I’m lucky, because I just love doing it.”
For more information search for Stay Free Falconry on Facebook.