TREVOR WEEKS - Harking back to the humble beginnings of wildlife group

The opening of the Casualty Centre in 2010
The opening of the Casualty Centre in 2010

As you may have seen, WRAS is celebrating multiple anniversaries.

We are celebrating the success of its Casualty Centre which has completed its fifth year in operation this winter – celebrating the completion of the charity’s tenth year as a registered charity; celebrating its 20 years as a voluntary group as well as celebrating my thirtieth year undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work in East Sussex and beyond.

We have launch “Trevor’s 30th Year Appeal” to raise funds to help us expand our ability to take in and treat yet more casualties. Most people are surprised to learn that we are funded by donations, and not by the Government or RSPCA. Our main source of income is standing orders.

It seems a long time ago that I started undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work back in 1985. I was just 13 and still at college. I couldn’t drive but would be out at weekends with the conservation volunteers and often came across sick and injured wildlife. I started walking the coast during the winter checking for oiled seabirds like guillemots and razorbills and would catch them and take them to Meta Mann who used to run a bird hospital from her home in Seaford.

I started rescuing casualties for a number of other organisations and helping them out. This increased my knowledge and experience. Once I could drive the number of rescues really increased. After running up a huge vets bill, vet Robin Hooper at Downwood Vets in Horam set me a challenge and offered to cut by £1,000 vets bill in half if I set up a voluntary group to help support my work and fund raise.

Seeing that I was not earning much at the time, I took this offer very seriously and, within six months, we had our first committee and East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was born.

From a one man-band, WRAS has grown to become the organisation it is today. We are still not that big in comparison to some other organisations, but we achieve a lot and are very cost effective. We now have more than 80 volunteers, four ambulances and our Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith is now capable of holding 200 casualties at a time. To read more about the history of WRAS and how WRAS has changed over the years go to http://wildlifeambulance.org/ wrass-multiple- celebrations/

This is only possible thanks to the support we get from the public, we can operate our service without you and your generous donations. For which I and the animals are extremely grateful. If you are able to help our Appeal by making a donation please either post a donation to us at East Susses WRAS, PO Box 2148, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 9DE, or phone 01825873003, or go on line to www.wildlifeambulance.org.

Rescuer Tony was called to this beautiful fox this morning, after a member of public found it hanging by its leg on a wire fence. Tony managed to free the fox and rush it to our centre where our vet Mike was waiting. Mike and I assessed the fox’s leg and were relieved that the damaged was not more severe, so set about repairing the damage. The wounds needed cleaning out, and Mike had to use internal suture as well as external suture to repair the injury. I then bandaged the leg up and bedded him down.

We have had another two tawny owls come in. One from near Mayfield. It was found by former BBC SE Today presenter Beverley Thompson who has previously rescued a road casualty fox at Polegate which came to WRAS. The other was from Hawkhurst late at night and the caller couldn’t find anyone else available to attend. Both are road casualties and starting to recover well.

Rescuers Dave and Sally had a strange rescue last week which involved him having to try and reach a jackdaw trapped behind a large commercial fridge in Eastbourne. After a bit of struggling they were able to reach down to the bird and get it back to WRAS. After 24 hours in care and under observation the bird was returned and released. Nobody knows why the bird got indoors and behind the fridge.

We’ve also had a hedgehog which we have called “Marmite” found in Black Path, Polegate. He has some wounds on his underside and head, he looks in good condition otherwise. He has now had his wounds cleaned, been given pain relief and antibiotics. We have also discovered he has severe lungworm burden. He has come from an area where we get a lot of hogs.