Tom Leppard

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This ex-soldier is among the most extreme of British eccentrics. Not only did he have almost his entire body tattooed with leopard spots (for a long time making him the most tattooed man in the world and earning him a spot in the Guiness Book of Records) but he fled society entirely, and lived for decades as a hermit on the Isle of Skye, shunning almost all human contact.

The ex-soldier spent around 5500 on his tattoos - an eye-watering sum even now - and then upped sticks to move to a small shack on the shores of Kyle of Lochalsh. Once a week, he would canoe to the mainland to pick up his army pension and his weekly supplies, but aside from that he shunned all human contact.

In 2008, he told the author of "In Search of England's Eccentrics" that he didn't want to move to the mainland because he would be 'plagued by interfering busybodies'. However, later that year he moved to a terraced house on Skye itself (where he still lives as of 2011) as he decided that - at the age of 71 - he was just "one big wave from disaster" on his weekly trips to the mainland by kayak.

In another rare interview for the BBC following his return to civilisation, he said:

"I've loved every minute and when you're covered in leopard tattoos you certainly get noticed - I became a bit of a tourist attraction on Skye."

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 8th July 2014 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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Tom Leppard Interview

If you can stomach the awful American commentator prattling over the top of this vid, it has some insight into Leppard's existence as a tattooed hermit