Herculean effort by artist supported by the late Paul O'Grady as he takes on 26-mile 'rubbish' pet portrait marathon

Renowned 'rubbish' pet portrait artist Hercule Van Wolfwinkle, who counts the late Paul O'Grady among his clients, is going on a Portrait Marathon from Worthing to Brighton to raise money for charity.

The illustrator and campaigner, whose real name is Phil Heckels, will walk 26 miles on Sunday, May 14, taking pit stops every mile to bemuse passers by with a beautifully terrible portrait of their beloved animal companion.

All funds raised will go directly to national charity StreetVet, which supports pets and their owners experiencing homelessness, and West Sussex charity Turning Tides. Hercule will be joined for part of his adventure by Jade Statt, co-founder of StreetVet.

Under the alias of Hercule Van Wolfwinkle, Phil began drawing self-proclaimed ‘rubbish’ portraits of people’s pets in 2020, in an attempt to amuse his son while in lockdown. His ‘ultra-realistic’, ‘child-like’ style quickly garnered a loyal following which he has since used to raise money for chosen charities, Turning Tides and StreetVet.

Since their partnership announcement in 2021, those requesting an imperfect portrait of their pet, among them the late Paul O’Grady, are able to choose to donate their commission cost to StreetVet, to support its work in keeping those experiencing homelessness and their pets, healthy and together.

Following previously successful ‘drawathon’ campaign efforts, his latest fatigue-fighting endeavour will push man and pencil to the limit, as Hercule embarks from the bottom of George V Avenue, the western most point of the Worthing promenade, on a 12 to 14-hour round trip to the Concorde 2 in Madeira Drive, Brighton, and back again. With an easily accessible route along the coast, Hercule is encouraging supporters to join him on his way and at scheduled stops each mile, where they can watch his unique portrait process in person.

Jade said: “We are so incredibly happy to have Hercule supporting us, his drawings are hilarious and never fail to make us laugh. His fundraising efforts have been of incredible help to us and we love the idea of his portrait marathon."