WHEN Northern Echo columnist Harry Mead’s wife Shirley popped into her local Tesco she was flabbergasted to see his image plastered on 6ft high posters throughout the store.
For unbeknown to the couple an image of the 76-year-old and his cat Billy had been used as part of a national in-store advertising campaign promoting the supermarket’s pet food sales.
Mr Mead, of Great Broughton, North Yorkshire, explained that his daughter, Jill, is a photographer who had sent the photo of him and his cat to a picture agency.
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The image was then selected by Tesco for its advertising campaign and the first anyone in the family knew was when Mrs Mead nipped to Tesco in Coulby Newham - ironically to buy some cat food - and was confronted with a giant image of her husband and Billy.
Mr Mead, who has been married to Shirley for more than 50 years, said: “My wife got the shock of her life when she saw it.
"Everyone in the shop was really nice about it and I felt like a celebrity when I went in, they all knew about it. They kindly let us have one of the posters and Shirley has been out showing everyone.
“Very sadly the cat had to be put to sleep about three weeks ago. We got him from a farm at Bilsdale which is why we called him Billy. He was 19-years-old and was just too infirm at the end. His sister Lottie is still with us.
“At least it shows they do use real people in these promotional pictures.”
It’s not the first time that the veteran columnist has found national fame: friends of his were once surprised to hear his voice being used as part of the internationally acclaimed Creature Comforts animation.
“That was my darkest hour,” laughed Mr Mead, who explained that interviews he gave to a radio journalist were used on the show more than ten years ago.
“My voice was used as that of a seal and he kept saying ‘paradoxically’ and it’s all become a bit of a family joke.”
Other photographs taken of Mr and Mrs Mead by their daughter have also been used in national and international media.
One snap of the couple walking on cliffs in Cornwall was used in a national newspaper’s weekend supplement and a photograph of Mrs Mead’s hands, scrambling for cash in her purse, has been used many times around the world to illustrate various stories.
*Mr Mead’s column appears in The Northern Echo on Wednesdays.