Sad farewell to popular seal from Skegness aged 40

A bride who went back to nature for her wedding pictures is among hundreds paying tribute to Franny the seal, who has died at the incredible age of 40.
Paul and Yvonne Nowick shaking flippers with Franny on their wedding day.Paul and Yvonne Nowick shaking flippers with Franny on their wedding day.
Paul and Yvonne Nowick shaking flippers with Franny on their wedding day.

Skegness Natureland made the sad announcement on Sunday that the sanctuary's popular seal who has entertained generations of holidaymakers had passed away peacefully, surrounded by keepers and management "who kept her calm".

It was down to the love and care she received at Natureland during her life that she survived so long as Harbor seals normally live to around 30 years old.

Franny was the first seal to be born at Natureland on June 27, 1979, to Twinny and Fred.

Paul and Yvonne Nowicki on their wedding day at Skegness Natureland in 1998Paul and Yvonne Nowicki on their wedding day at Skegness Natureland in 1998
Paul and Yvonne Nowicki on their wedding day at Skegness Natureland in 1998

As it was unknown at the time whether captive-born seals would survive in the wild, Franny became a permanent resident.

She also played a prominent feature at the wedding of Winthorpe couple Paul and Yvonne Nowicki in 1998. Yvonne, who now lives in Derby, recalls shaking a flipper with Franny for one of the photographs taken by the Skegness Standard, who were invited along.

"People thought we had gone to a tropical island to get married because one of the photographs was taken in the Butterfly House with exotic flowers in the background," said Yvonne.

"My late husband who died two years ago was a well-known taxi driver was friends of the owners and raised money for Natureland, including running numerous Boston to Skegness marathons dressed as a gorilla. We were married at Spilsby Register Office and went to Natureland for the photographs, donating £100 to the sanctuary.

Franny the seal has died aged 40.Franny the seal has died aged 40.
Franny the seal has died aged 40.

"It's so sad I didn't get to say goodbye to Franny because it was my birthday last week and, as I still have family in Skegness, I like to come back and visit her. Because of lockdown I wasn't able to.

"I'll treasure the pictures always."

Natureland said Franny will be greatly missed: "Franny had a happy and comfortable life in the Resident Poo and successfully raised 12 pups of her own, including a set of twins.

"All of these pups were successfully released back into the wild, helping to maintain the population of harbor seals around the UK.

"During more recent years Franny lost vision in her left eye. However, this never dampened her cheerful spirit. She would continue to participate in feeding times and only towards her final few days did her appetite fade.

"Her passing was quick and peaceful. She was not displaying any signs of discomfort until Friday morning and was alert and calm until her final minutes.

"Franny will be greatly missed by all of us here at Natureland."