Flashback to 1995: Collectable figurine of crime-busting duo

It was a poignant tribute to man’s best friend and a special bond. Former policeman Ken Young was presented with a unique reminder of his ex-partner - a dog called Karl.

Matt Buckley, design studio manager for Robert Harrop Designs, presented the model of Karl the German Shepherd in uniform to retired police dog handler, Ken Young
Matt Buckley, design studio manager for Robert Harrop Designs, presented the model of Karl the German Shepherd in uniform to retired police dog handler, Ken Young

Shifnal potter Robert Harrop made a figurine to honour the crime-busting duo.

Ken, who was 49 at the time, spent 14 years as a dog handler with West Mercia police in Telford.

During that time he trained German Shepherd Karl to be an award winner.

Before his death from natural causes in 1984, 13-year-old Karl received a commendation from the Chief Constable after finding a missing two-year-old Newport boy.

He once gave blood to save another police dog and regularly faced thugs with knives and even axes.

So it was only fitting that the courageous hound be honoured in ceramic.

Robert created a collectable figurine featuring Ken’s uniform and Karl’s head by working entirely from photographs provided by Ken.

In late December 1995, Ken was presented with his very own prototype of the model to mark his retirement from the force earlier that month after 30 years’ service.

Police dog hander Ken Young and his dog Karl

During his career, he went back to school in order to break down barriers between the police and young people.

He spent two and a half days a week at Madeley Court School and was involved in a range of activities with pupils, both in the classroom and out of school.

The project was initiated by Inspector Terry Lowe of Community Affairs and was supported by the headmaster at the school, Mr Alan Cooper.

Constable Young was mainly involved with 11-year-olds but as they moved up the school they kept in touch with him and it meant there was much closer contact between younger people generally and the police in the area.

In 1992, Ken was also featured in the Star when he was told to take the bus in a cost-cutting exercise by his bosses. Leaving his panda car parked at the police station, Ken said: “This is nothing new. I was using the bus in 1966,’’ said Pc Young, the town’s schools liaison officer. The scheme is one of several ways that police are cutting spending on travel.

He was delighted to have a permanent reminder of his time working with German Shepherd Karl.

Ken said the dog was chosen not only because he was brave but because his ears stuck out which made it easier for Mr Harrop to fit the helmet onto his head.

“Karl has a very special place in my heart and I shed a tear when I saw how accurate the ceramic is.’’

Ken, who had just started his new job as an education welfare officer for Shropshire County Council, planned to give the figure pride of place on his mantelpiece.

Ken Young with the model of his police dog, Karl

The piece was also to go on general sale in February 1996.

It was Robert Harrop’s love of art and horses which led him to become one of Britain’s leading manufacturers of hand-painted figurines.

After training as a sculptor at Wolverhampton College of Art, Robert pursued a career as a professional equestrian rider until his career was cut short by a back injury.

However, Robert used his skills to create bronze sculptures of well-known horses, including the legendary Red Rum. And when the much-loved horse retired in 1979, its owners asked Robert to start casting statues for its fans.

This led to the introduction of a series of the Doggie People, a series of canine figurines with almost human-like characteristics.

In 1995, Robert Harrop Designs introduced a new line of figurines based on characters from the Beano and Dandy comic series, and in the years that followed the company has carved out a niche creating bronze figures of favourite children’s television series of the 20th century.

From Watch with Mother’s Andy Pandy to The Magic Roundabout’s Zebedee, through to Bagpuss and Camberwick Green, generations of childhood memories have all been captures in bronze.

Speaking during an interview with the Star in 2014, Robert said there is a big market among people in their 40s and 50s with fond memories of the programmes they grew up with as a child.

“It’s British nostalgia, it is a social history,” he said.

“It charts the social economic development during the last quarter of the 20th century, and the start of this century. We don’t make stuff for children, it’s adults wanting to recapture favourite characters from their childhood.”

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