Hercule Van Wolfwinkle

October 2020

Have you heard of Hercule Van Wolfwinkle?

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Supporter of Turning Tides plunged into the limelight – becoming global sensation overnight!


Phil Heckels of Worthing (38), also known as Hercule Van Wolfwinkle, could never have believed that his “rubbish” drawings would raise over £20,000 in just over a month for our charity. What started as a thank you card to his parents, as an attempt to get his reluctant 6 year old away from computer games – turned into a virtual storm with hundreds of pet portrait requests flying in from around the globe.

If you sat down to watch breakfast news in October, you would undoubtedly have seen Phil – he has been on BBC National News, ITV’s This Morning and has been contacted by multiple news programmes from the United States – all in one day! Yet, Phil still regards his drawings as “rubbish” doodles and doesn’t honestly know what the fuss is about. However self-deprecating Phil may be – it is unmistakable that he has not only brought a smile to thousands of people at such a difficult time, he has also rallied people to make vital donations in support of men and women experiencing homelessness locally.

As Phil explains:

“Honestly, I just never would have believed these rubbish doodles of mine would cause such a sensation – it still doesn’t feel real. All I did was a drawing of my own dog for my parents, posted it on my Facebook page and then my friends requests started pouring in…. Before too long I found myself drawing pets every evening!”

“One of my mates wanted to pay me for the portrait I did but I honestly didn’t want any money because they are really not that great! I wanted any money to go to the charity I have supported for many years, Turning Tides. So I set up a JustGiving page and Facebook Page under the Pseudonym “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle’s Pet Portraits” and the rest, as they say is history! I have almost 13,000 people following me!”

Ruth Poyner Head of Fundraising and Communications commented: “We, are absolutely thrilled by the amazing talent, energy and enthusiasm Phil (aka Hercule Van Wolfwinkle) has poured into his Pet Portraits. Phil, and all his avid supporters have not only raised a staggering £18,000+ in such a short space of time, in support of our charity; he has also increased awareness of the rising numbers of homeless men and women in our community.

Phil has supported our charity for a number of years and shares our passionate belief that no one should be without a home. We are facing an unprecedented need for our services in West Sussex. We are incredibly concerned as we enter the winter months, how the ongoing pandemic will have an impact on the hundreds of men and women we already support but also those who will inevitably become homeless and need our support as the economic consequences of Covid take effect. The winter months are looming and this poses a great risk, particularly to the lives of people who are forced to sleep rough. It will be a real challenge this.”

Phil has a very ‘normal’ office job and is exceptionally critical of his drawings that take on a character and charm delighting the owners. Phil continues “I write fake reviews ridiculing my efforts supposedly from the owners. I think people believed them to be real at first”.

A flavour of his fake reviews will leave you in stitches:

  • “Like a firework display, massively overwhelming at first but ultimately not what I had hoped for and bitterly disappointing!”
  • “I was told you would capture the essence of my dog. Well you’ve certainly captured her scent. And let me tell you this now, she STINKS”
  • “Did you draw this in the dark…… with your eyes closed ….. and your hands tied behind your back?”

Ruth continues: “Phil is exceptionally self-effacing but he has really brought a smile to so many at such a difficult time. Additionally, to know the donations from his much beloved pet portraits will also have a lasting positive impact on the most vulnerable people in our community is really very special.”

If you would like a real chuckle, whether you are an animal lover or not, these Pet Portraits and their fake reviews will leave you in hysterics. A real feel good factor for a cause that resonates with so many, especially at this time – as homelessness is set to escalate in the coming winter months.

See for yourself and request a portrait, but be aware Phil has over 3,500 requests! Visit his Facebook page: Hercule’s Pet Portraits or check out his fundraising page

UPDATE: Hercule Van Wolfwinkle has been awarded by the Prime Minister for ‘The Daily Points of Light’  – which recognises outstanding individual volunteers who are making a change in their community. Find out more

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