LEADING animal sculptor Sally Arnup has died from septicaemia at York Hospital, aged 85.

Sally, who worked from studios at Holtby, near York, continued to work hard until this year, having two major shows at Kensington, London, and Gallery 108 in Harrogate, said her son Ben.

"She was modelling a large sculpture of a horse near Thirsk when she had a stroke in a stable at the beginning of October," he said.

He said she arrived in York in 1957 with her husband, Mick Arnup, after they had both qualified at the Royal College of Art. "Mick had a post at York Art School and Sally soon taught sculpture there.

"For seventy years, Sally developed animal sculptures. Her work is well-represented around York, such as the calf in the courtyard of The Kings Manor, and her large and small sculptures were sold around the world. Commissions came from well-known customers, including Prince Philip."

She had four children, Rebecca, Ben, a ceramicist, Tobias, an art therapist and Hannah, who set up Ballymorris Pottery in Ireland.

Ben said that when Rebecca, who was learning disabled, was five, the local authority told Sally it had no provision for the education of someone with such profound disabilities, prompting her to campaign for proper support.

"Having obtained advice that the council was obliged to educate her, Sally threatened to leave Rebecca at the council offices. The council asked for three weeks to sort something out, at the end of which time, the Fever Hospital at Yearsley Bridge was set up as a school for disabled children. This in turn evolved into the Yearsley Bridge Centre, the educational provision for people with learning disability."

He also revealed how Sally had set up an Oxfam shop in York at the end of the 1950s, when there were no charity shops here, organising book sales at the Friends Meeting House. "She got a free shop for a short occupancy, several times, and the alien concept of a charity shop came to York.

"Sally was a fiercely independent woman, with a number of quests, all made possible because Mick supported her in finding solutions – as he did in every aspect of their life together."