A FELINE friend turned unofficial university mascot is to be celebrated with a statue as part of a special celebratory day.

Essex University declared today, March 5, Campus Cat Day, honouring Pebbles, the 16-year-old campus cat.

The idea was born after conversations between Students’ Union chief executive Craig Stephens and university vice-chancellor Anthony Forster.

Mr Stephens said: “It has been in the plans for a few years.

“We just thought it would be nice to recognise Pebbles who has brought a lot of joy to students, staff and visitors.”

The black and white cat was first seen strolling around the site in late 2010.

Gazette: Cute - Pebbles pictured on the Essex University campusCute - Pebbles pictured on the Essex University campus (Image: Essex University Students' Union)

No one was sure of where it came from, but by early 2011 people were noticing he seemed to have taken up residence.

After the crafty cat was captured, he was taken to the vet to check his chip and returned to his family in Greenstead.

But within 24 hours appeared back on campus again.

Despite more attempts to try and return him, Pebbles had decided for himself he was happy on campus.

The owner agreed he seemed happy, and Pebbles was soon adopted Mr Stephens. 

The SU put together a day of celebrations for Campus Cat Day, including a poetry and photography competition, themed cocktails, craft events and more.

Gazette: Adorable - the statue of campus cat Pebbles created by sculptor Gill ParkerAdorable - the statue of campus cat Pebbles created by sculptor Gill Parker (Image: Essex University Students' Union)

As well as this, a statue, created by sculptor Gill Parker, was unveiled by university chancellor Dr Sarah Perry.

Funds for the statue came from Pebbles’ wellbeing fund, which goes towards looking after him, raised by things such as campus cat merchandise.

Mr Stephens said: “The day has gone really well. We’ve had plenty happening and it has been well-received.

“All money raised today goes back into his wellbeing fund which looks after him.

“He is getting on a bit so that should help him a lot in the coming years.”

Mr Stephens said Pebbles acts as a calming mechanism for students.

“Many of them have pets and it is a nice relaxation and almost brings home to them,” he said.

“They can feel better by sitting with and stroking him.

“He is a big part of the campus, and it has been great to celebrate him.

“Hopefully it is the start of an annual event for years to come.”