East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is a front line rescue service to help people who find sick, injured and orphaned wildlife across East Sussex. Every year WRAS receives between 2-3,000 calls for help. Some of these are purely advisory calls, others need the response on site of one of our ambulances. On site WRAS’s rescuers provide vital first aid to casualties starting the care right at the beginning at the rescue location.
2010 - 2020 WRAS's has completed its 10th Year at its Casualty Centre at Whitesmith.
2005-2020 WRAS's has completed its 15th year as a registered Charity.
1996 - 2021 WRAS has now been a voluntary group for 25 years.
1985 - 2020 Founder Trevor Weeks has completed his 35th year helping wildlife
Founder Trevor Weeks, who was raised in Hailsham, and born in Eastbourne in 1972, started undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work back in 1985 when he was just 13 in and around the Hailsham and Eastbourne area. The first ten years Trevor spent most of his time helping a variety of organisations like the Conservation Volunteers, local Badger Group, Amphibian and Reptile Group, and various individuals who ran small bird and wildlife hospitals from their homes. Trevor also took on the role of Tree Warden and Common Pond Warden at Hailsham for a number of years in additional to helping to establish the group Environment Hailsham. Trevor started volunteering with Meta Mann who ran a bird hospital from her home in Seaford, collecting oiled covered seabirds like Guillemots and Razorbills and delivering them to her as well as helping to wash and clean them. Once Trevor could drive and had his own car he started doing more rescue work and helped the Fox Project and Swan Sanctuary.
In 1993 Trevor lost his mum to cancer which had a big impact on his life which he struggled to deal with, but his voluntary work really helped pull him through. “It was my mum which got me interested in animals and nature, we always had one animal or another at home, which she always said were the responsibility of my brother and I to look after and of course she would always be the one who ended up looking after them. They included chicken, terrapins, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, cats and dogs.” Said Trevor.
In 1996 Trevor attended the Sea Empress Oil Spill in Millford Haven in Wales working with Redbrook Wildlife Rescue, British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Greenpeace. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was formed later that year after Trevor ran up a vets bill of over £1000 and was struggling to pay off the fees. Vet Robin Hooper from Downwood Vets in Horam, gave Trevor a challenge to set up his work as a voluntary group and get a committee and fundraising going, and in return Robin offered to cut Trevor’s bill in half. Trevor rose to the challenge and within 6 months East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was born.
“I owe Meta and Robin a lot as I don’t think I would be where I am today if it had not been for their influence and support for me and for seeing my potential. I learnt so much from them.” Said Trevor.
Trevor trained in computer programming and worked for various companies but undertaking his wildlife rescue work as his hours were flexible. The only time Trevor has not been able to undertake his rescue work was for about six months at the end of 1999, when he took on a programming job working in London. Eventually Trevor gave up this lucrative job earning over £32,000 a year in 2000 to come back to Sussex. Working just part time, Trevor then put a lot of his time into undertaking wildlife rescue work and trying to develop the organisation into a charity.
Over the years Trevor has also worked for International Animal Rescue in Uckfield and then moved over to their sister charity Bristish Divers Marine Life Rescue where he became their National Co-ordinator helping to support volunteers around the country undertake whale, dolphin and seal rescues.
At one point Trevor had to pull back from his rescue work for a couple of years after being warned by his doctor he was close to having a heart attack if he didn’t start taking it easy. Trevor has even ploughed all of his £10,000 savings into the charity to save it when it came close to closing back 2007.
In 2005 WRAS was formed as a registered charitable company. More recently Trevor moved to work part time for WRAS on minimum wage and has set up their Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith on the A22 between Hailsham, Uckfield and Lewes. The centre is capable of holding up to 200 casualties at a time. In addition to this, the charity has 5 veterinary ambulances and over 100 volunteers who work hard to keep the charity going.
The charity has grown to become an award winning charity and in 2010 the charity received an IFAW Animal Action Award at the House of Lords, in 2012 Trevor was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List receiving the MBE, later that year he received the BBC Sussex & Surrey Community Heroes Award for Animal Welfare, and in 2013 the charity won the Local Animal Charity of the Year in the ITV1 British Animal Honours. Trevor’s work has also been recognised by both the Eastbourne Herald and Gazette in 2005 when he won a Volunteer Award and in 2010 received an award from local radio station Sovereign FM.
So from small beginning WRAS has grown to what it is today thanks not just to Trevor but all the volunteers and supporters who have kept WRAS alive and pushing forward.Follow us!
Trevor Weeks MBE – Founder & Operations Director
Trevor is East Sussex WRAS’s founder. Although he started WRAS in 1996, he has been undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work since 1985 when he was just 13 years old.
Over the years Trevor has gained a lot of experience and knowledge working alongside various veterinary surgeons as well as gain knowledge from organisations like St Tiggywinkles, Vale Wildlife Rescue, Fox Project, Folly Wildlife Rescue, Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue, The Swan Sanctuary Shepperton, RSPCA Mallydams, Sussex Bat Hospital and other.
Trevor originally trained as a computer programmer and even worked in London for a while, until he gave up this career due to his love of wildlife. He took on a role as an administrative assistant at International Animal Rescue, before moving over to British Divers Marine Life Rescue and becoming their National Co-ordinator for 7 years and also if trained as an Advanced Marine Mammal Medic. It was not until the summer 2010 that Trevor took on a paid position within East Sussex WRAS thanks to an ongoing grant from International Animal Rescue. Trevor like all WRAS staff works for minimum wage and still continues to undertake many hours on a voluntary basis. Trevor is on call almost 7 days a week every week of the year at time he works up to 120 hours a week.
Trevor has a Diploma in Wildlife First Aid & Rehabilitation, but has also undertaken various other courses including the British Hedgehog Preservation Societies Basic Hedgehog First, Care and Rehabilitation Course and a human First Aid course. He has also qualified and trained as a Lay Vaccinator with the Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency in October 2013.
Katie Nunn Nash – Lead Casualty Manager
Katie started as a feed and clean shift volunteer in January 2015 due to her love for wildlife. As her love of wildlife grew, she expanded her role by becoming a rescue volunteer as well as joining the orphan rearing team. When an Animal Care Assistant Role became available, Katie jumped at the chance to apply, and was successful in her application. Katie is learning new things from the team on a daily basis, and has now worked her way up to Lead Casualty Centre Manager, and is the Orphan Rearing Leader.
Whilst at WRAS, Katie has attended the British Hedgehog Preservation Society's 'Basic Hedgehog First Aid and Rehabilitation Course' in conjunction with Vale Wildlife Hospital, and is now training for her diploma in Wildlife First Aid and Rehabilitation.
Kathy Martyn – Rehabilitation Supervisor
Kathy has worked around animals since the age of 12, helping at local stables, helping voluntarily at a veterinary practice for 4 years through the school holidays and evenings before being given a paid part time job there until she left at 18, as well as also volunteered at a local RSPCA rehoming kennels. Kathy joined WRAS in 2008 and her first rescue involved tackling an injured adult deer. Working her way up through the organisation Kathy has learned many skills primarily from our consultant vet Simon Harris learning WRAS’s procedures and protocols. Kathy has also helped out in a supportive role with training and rescue work with British Divers Marine Life Rescue and has spent time learning with other rescue organisations like Vale Wildlife Rescue, Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue, St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital and the Sussex Bat Hospital. Kathy has also completed the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and Vale Wildlife Rescue Basic Hedgehog First Aid, Care and Rehabilitation Course and is studying for her Diploma in Wildlife First Aid and Rehabilitation.
Kathy has been in the thick of most of WRAS’s major rescues getting her hands dirty and has built up an extensive experience in wildlife first aid, rescue and rehabilitation. Kathy now specialises in the pigeon and dove rearing, rescue, first aid, and treatment at WRAS but also co-ordinates our over wintered Hedgehogs ensuring they all go back to where they belong.
Karen Francis - Casualty Manager
Karen began volunteering for WRAS in 2016 on the orphan rearing shift throughout the summer. Then during 2017 a summer job came up for an animal care assistant and she applied straight away. Ever since then she has gained more and more experience with doing a Wildlife First Aid and Rehabilitation course and eventually becoming a full time member of staff.
Holly Davis - Animal Care Assistant
Holly began volunteering in December 2015 for a student work placement requirement from Plumpton College while she was studying Level 2 Animal Management. She completed her required hours for her course, and then stayed on to help with rescues and general maintenance around the centre, and then never left! Holly has now landed herself a job as a part time animal care assistant. She feels that she learnt way more from practical experience here at WRAS than she did at college, and she learnt very quickly from shadowing Katie and Karen.
Ellie Langridge - Volunteer and Student Coordinator
Ellie has always been an animal lover ever since she was a toddler she would be out in the garden finding toads, snails and slow worms! "I knew I needed to work with animals for the rest of my life, I simply just couldn't see myself doing anything else!". Ellie studied Level 3 Animal Management at Plumpton College from 2013-2015. She volunteered at Drusillas for a few years, and realised zoo keeping wasn't for her. Then she found WRAS in 2017 and volunteered as a rescuer on a Thursday, until being offered the job as Volunteer and Student Coordinator in 2018. "I love my job, I have the perfect balance of caring for injured wildlife, plus educating volunteers and students about how to care for wildlife. I feel like I am making a difference".
Murrae Hume – Trustee, Treasurer, Rescuer and Company Secretary
Murrae and his wife Valerie joined WRAS in 1999. Shortly after moving to Sussex they noticed that a duck on the pond adjacent to their house had an injured wing. That weekend they attended an open day at Hailsham Cats Protection league where WRAS had a small display. Trevor visited to check on the duck and that is where it all started. WRAS at that time was a small rescue organisation relaying on local vets or other organisations to provide any long term care, and the occasional use of a volunteer’s spare bedroom or garden shed.
Murrae worked with others to obtain Limited company status followed by Charity registration which they achieved in April 2005. Murrae was the first company chairman and is the only one of the original directors/trustees remaining. After a couple of years as Chairman he switched to become Company Secretary and later also took on the role of Treasurer. Despite the time spent on administration he has also spent a lot of time on the rescue side often covering the rescue line, he now covers rescues on Sundays. Until recently he also helped the feed and clean shift on a Tuesday morning. He is also qualified as a Marine Mammal Medic and has spent time working with seal pups in Scotland.
Away from WRAS, Murrae worked as a Police Officer in Surrey for thirty years and is now still employed full time by Surrey Police in a civilian capacity as a Licensing Enforcement Officer keeping an eye on licensed premises on the Eastern side of the County. Although Work and WRAS do not allow for much spare time, Murrae still escapes occasionally to follow his other hobby as Assistant District Commissioner for East Surrey Scouts.
East Sussex WRAS works with 11 different veterinary practices across the county, but has two registered vets who are responsible for overseeing the procedures following by WRAS’s Care Team and for providing some veterinary surgery.
Simon Harris BVSc Cert VR MRCVS
Simon qualified from Bristol Veterinary School in 1982.
He had a one year house job at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh and obtained the Certificate in Veterinary Radiology, and since then has worked in mostly small animal general practice.
Simon has interests in neurology and feline medicine, but greatly enjoys the privilege of his involvement in the veterinary care of British Wildlife with WRAS.
Chris Hall BVSc MRCVS
Chris is originally from Yorkshire and qualified from the Royal Veterinary College, Edinburgh in 1995.
He has worked all over the country including 2 1/2 years running a busy emergency clinic in South Wales and some time working with Cheetahs and other wildlife in South Africa. He took over at Henley House Veterinary Practice in Uckfield in November 2006.
Chris has been supporting WRAS with veterinary work since 2010, seeing a wide variety of casualties from small baby birds to injured deer. In his spare time he likes scuba diving, skiing and golf.
Mike Symons MRCVS
Mike has recently joined our team after retiring from Cliffe Vets in Lewes. Mike now helps provide emergency support, advice and out of hours treatment plus routine regular visits. Mike is also now invovled in helping to train WRAS staff and volunteers.
WRAS has a wide variety of volunteers from young students aged 16 plus undertaking work experience for college up to mature volunteers who have retired and want to spend time helping wildlife. WRAS has over 100 volunteers working a variety of roles from rescue work to feed and clean shifts. These are just a few example of some of our volunteers.
Jack Ley - General Volunteer
"Originally I began volunteering at WRAS to gain work experience for my college course at Plumpton. Now, 3 years later I am still coming in once a week to care for the casualties as well as assisting with rescues and releases. I feel like I have learnt not only about wildlife, but also about myself. Volunteering has helped me become more confident in talking with the public, as well as increasing my knowledge of British wildlife and the welfare needs of the animals. Throughout my journey I have not only made friends at WRAS but family. Every Thursday I come in and work alongside the same hardworking volunteers each week to care for the casualties. We all have the same motive, to help these animals survive. One of my best rescues involved saving a guillemot covered in oil on Eastbourne beach. I’ll never forget the thrill of capturing her knowing we could get her treated, washed and released back in the wild."
Katey Edmunson - Feed & Clean Shift Volunteer
After 42 years in the National Health Service, Katey retired and felt like it was time to try something new and exciting! She began volunteering in 2014 on a Thursday and Friday morning. Katey also helps bring new volunteers along through doing taster sessions whenever she can, she’s a wonderful teacher and is great at explaining WRAS to new people! “5 years later I love it more and more every day” Katey said. “Whatever I give, I get back one thousand times, often sad, always rewarding and never dull, volunteering at WRAS is amazing and a total privilege”. “It’s the best thing I have ever done, why don’t you try it?”
I have been Volunteering at WRAS for 6 ½ years with my wife Charlotte. We decided to join WRAS because we wanted make a difference and since then we have never looked back. We do a variety of jobs from feeding and cleaning shifts to doing rescues and orphan rearing we love every minute of it, seeing the rewards of the hard work is worth it. My best experiences with WRAS is seeing the variety of casualties from the smallest to the largest coming into care and learning so much about them with so much more to learn, every shift is, different from the last as it can change so much each week and the anticipation for what you will see is intriguing. My best moment was helping rescue “Norman” the Red Footed Booby which somehow had strayed from the Galapagos Islands. Seeing the diversity of animals we have is fascinating and educational , so your never short of things to see and do but all in all I would never change what I do with my wife at WRAS.Follow us!
We are really grateful to the following organisations who have very kindly helped support our work. If your company or organisation would like to support WRAS in any way, please get in touch via email.
International Animal Rescue
International Animal Rescue saves animals from suffering around the world. Their work includes cutting free and caring for dancing bears in India, rescuing primates from captivity in Indonesia and sterilising and vaccinating stray dogs and cats in developing countries. Wherever possible they return rescued animals to their natural environment but we also provide a permanent home for animals that can no longer survive in the wild.
International Animal Rescue sponsors three quarters of the salary of Trevor Weeks at WRAS and have offered valuable support and advice over the years.
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare saves individual animals, animal populations and habitats all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, whether it's dogs and cats, wildlife and livestock, or rescuing animals in the wake of disasters. IFAW also advocate saving populations from cruelty and depletion, such as their campaign to end commercial whaling and seal hunts.
In 2010 WRAS picked up an Animal Action Award from IFAW at the House of Lords. IFAW have helped fund a number of items of rescue equipment.
Heathfield Sainsbury's has chosen East Sussex WRAS as its charity of the year raising funds over 12 months until the summer 2015. WRAS’s Trevor Weeks is working closely with the store and over the 12 months, various events will be held at the store to raise both awareness and funds.
The store aims to raise enough money to help sponsor the running costs of WRAS’s new Educational Trailer.
Eastbourne and Heathfield Co-op
Both Eastbourne and Heathfield area Co-ops raised money for East Sussex WRAS in order to purchase two veterinary ambulances. A huge thank you to everyone who shops at Co-op for being so generous and for supporting our charity.
Magpie is the brainchild of designer Nicky Sloan and was created in 2011 to cater to a gap Nicky had spotted in the homewares market. Since its launch, Magpie has grown steadily, both in the design ranges it offers and the customers stocking it. Available from over 1000 stores throughout the UK including esteemed High street names such as Oliva Bonas, Selfridges, Harrods, Lakeland, House of Fraser along with hundreds of independent shops, and boasting over 500 unique products, Magpie has built a solid foundation to date and has ambitious plans for the future. After attending events like Vegfest Magpie donates the profit to worthy charities and East Sussex WRAS is one of them receiving £500 at a time after such events. Please support them at their website by clicking here.
Skinners Sheds stepped in to help out East Sussex WRAS after a company let WRAS down at the last minute. They donated a shed normally worth over £600 which has now be erected at Uckfield where WRAS overwinters numerous hedgehogs during the winter. Please support them. Their website is: http://www.skinners-sheds.com/ and their facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/skinners.sheds?fref=tsFollow us!
East Sussex WRAS provides its ambulance, rescue and rehabilitation service free of charge to members of the public but reserves the right to charge organisations, councils and companies.
Where a charge is to be made WRAS will make this clear before our service is used.
By handing over a casualty to WRAS finders are agreeing to pass over all legal responsibility to East Sussex WRAS. This includes WRAS being responsible for making all decisions on first aid, treatment, care, euthanasia, rehabilitation and release.
Despite being able to hold up to 350 casualties at a time at our Hospital there are occasions when our hospital is unable to accept some or all casualties. This is done to ensure animal welfare standards are high and because we are full or have limited space for casualties of a certain size and type. When this occurs, we will recommend other organisations that may be able to help. Where possible we will offer to help transport casualties to these other organisations if we are able to do so.
East Sussex WRAS is within its rights to exclude individuals or organisations from using its service, due to verbal or physical abuse, offensive, bullying, stalking, coercive or controlling behaviour, or any unlawful prejudice based upon gender, age, disability, religion or race.
There is no legal obligation for East Sussex WRAS to collect casualties from anyone.
East Sussex WRAS recognises that its veterinary surgeons have a responsibility to give emergency first aid when presented with wildlife casualties when they are at our Casualty Centre at Whitesmith. When available WRAS’s Care Team (Non-Vets) will also do their utmost to give emergency first aid to casualties within the scope of the law. This includes casualties presented by excluded persons or organisations; however, there is no legal responsibility for WRAS to admit the casualties into its Centre for rehabilitation and release.
WRAS personnel, volunteers and officers aim to act with the utmost integrity and respect towards all organisations and individuals that it comes in to contact with in the course of its activities. In return WRAS expect that its staff, volunteers and officers are treated with equal respect by the organisations and individuals that it comes in to contact with on a day to day basis.
WRAS has a responsibility to inform the Police when there is evidence that a criminal offence may have occurred. It is therefore policy that WRAS reports such incidents to the Police for further investigation.
We always want to learn and develop our service, so WRAS welcomes feedback. This can be done by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate that mistakes occur. In the rare occasion when a complaint is necessary, please put this in writing to East Sussex WRAS. PO Box 2148, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 9DE.
WRAS will investigate any complaints that it may receive regarding its conduct or the conduct of its staff, volunteers and officers in accordance with its policies and procedures.Follow us!
Animal Welfare is paramount at East Sussex WRAS. Euthanasia of a casualty is not taken lightly, and it is WRAS’s policy for this to never be a single persons responsibility. Animals will fight tooth and claw to survive so WRAS strongly believes in giving all casualties individual care and attention, and if there is any doubt about the casualty’s ability to survive the casualty will be supported for at least 24 or 48 hours and then reassessed with the support of our Veterinary Team.
Casualties are as individual as humans, so what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. Reactions to rescue, captivity, treatment all vary from individual to individual. As a result each casualty is treated as an individual but taking into consideration the needs and habits of the species too.
WRAS’s aim is to return as many casualties to the wild as possible and also back to their home range. However there are occasions when the best course of action is to euthanase. For example a road casualty fox with permanent paralysis, or a cat attacked bird with old injuries and its intestines dry and exposed.
WRAS considers the following clear-cut cases for euthanasia:
- A severed and displaced vertebral column.
- The loss of two or more limbs.
- A bird that is completely blind.
- A swan, goose or duck that loses a leg (but only after consultation with the Swan Sanctuary Veterinary Team).
- Most adult male deer that cannot be released.
- Disabled wood pigeons – wood pigeons never settle in captivity.
- Birds of prey and Corvids with only one leg.
WRAS also considers the following not so clear-cut cases for euthanasia:
- Any casualty which is going to have to suffer unacceptable levels of pain even if treated.
- Any casualty which will never have any quality of life even if they recover and are kept in captivity.
- Any casualty which cannot benefit from veterinary techniques evolved for domestic animals but that are unsuitable for wild animals.
- Any casualty which requires a long period or permanent captivity without suitable facilities being available.
Euthanasia is never undertaken out on site unless assessed by a vet first. Deer are the only exception and if not treatable a suitably qualified fire-arms user is called to euthanase the animal.
Wild animals and birds are not the same as domestic and agricultural animals, primarily because they are frightened of humans. It is important not to anthropomorphize our emotions onto wild animals who often react completely differently to how a domestic animals or humans would. This often causes people to misread the condition of a casualty which can cause it to then suffer. Each species acts differently and have their own stress factors which impacts on their ability to be treated and released back to the wild.
Although WRAS is lucky to have better facilities than most small wildlife rescue organistions, WRAS doesn’t have unlimited funds. In a similar way to the NICE deciding on which medication and treatments should be allowed on the NHS, WRAS also has to set a level to which treatment is cost effective without causing a detrimental effect on the long term ability of the charity to treat casualties without closing down.
The charity will where possible pass casualties to other rescue organisations when WRAS doesn’t have suitable facilities to look after the casualty, or where other organisations have more specialist knowledge, experience or facilities than WRAS can provide. Also where the casualties condition is unusual and not something which WRAS’s Veterinary Team are used to dealing with, or where WRAS’s facilities are occupied and unable to take in the individual casualty.
WRAS is not against disable wildlife casualties being kept in captivity, but believes many are done so using inappropriate or over-crowded facilities causing distress, disease and suffering. WRAS is not a sanctuary and does not have facilities for keeping disabled or non-releasable casualties in captivity. The only exception to this is large enclosed gardens where disabled hedgehogs are placed where they can live “as if wild” and be monitored. Only at sanctuaries where suitable facilities and knowledge exists will WRAS pass over disabled or non-releasable casualties to wildlife sanctuaries for them to be kept in care and to live “as if wild”. WRAS strongly believes any disabled wildlife must be able to live in conditions which provide the 5 freedoms:
- Freedom from Hunger and Thirst, by ready access to fresh water and a suitable diet to maintain full health and vigour.
- Freedom from Discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment including ground cover/vegetation, flooring, shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease, by prevention and rapid diagnosis and treatment, keeping animals in hygienic conditions.
- Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour, by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
- Freedom from Fear and Distress, by insuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
WRAS regularly sends waterfowl to the Swan Sanctuary at Shepperton, bats to the Bat Hospital, and feral pigeons to several pigeon keepers with suitable facilities to look after long term or non-releasable cases to name a few.
WRAS has a Natural England licence to treat and release a limited number of grey squirrels back to the wild.
It is a sad fact that wildlife rescue organisations up and down the country all have to euthanase casualties, and many trauma cases are just too severe to treat and recover from. The overwhelming responsibility on any rescue organisation is to ensure that casualties which come into care do not suffer. Sadly it is impossible to avoid putting some casualties to sleep on medical ground.
WRAS has changed hugely over the past 20 years, and where we were unable to house and treat some casualties 10 years ago, we are able to now, providing bigger and better facilities.
WRAS is committed to improving its facilities and continually learning and developing its ability to treat and care for wildlife, learning from other established rescue centres new techniques for the care and treatment of casualties, expanding its facilities to increase the numbers taken into care and the purchase of new and additional equipment to improve the quality of care we can provide.Follow us!
TO MAKE A DONATION SCROLL DOWN:
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is celebrating the success of its Casualty Centre which has completed its 10th year in operation this winter. Celebrating the completion of the Charities 15th year as a registered charity. Celebrating its 25th years as a voluntary group as well as celebrating founder Trevor Weeks’ completion of his 35th year undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work in East Sussex and beyond.
Founder Trevor Weeks MBE of Uckfield, who was raised in Hailsham and born in Eastbourne, started undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work back in 1985 when he was just 13 in and around the Hailsham and Eastbourne area.
The first ten years Trevor spent most of his time helping a variety of organisations like the Conservation Volunteers, local Badger Group, Amphibian and Reptile Group, and various individuals who ran small bird and wildlife hospitals from their homes. Trevor started volunteering with Meta Mann who ran a bird hospital from her home in Seaford and collecting oiled covered seabird like Guillemots and Razorbills and delivering them to her as well as helping to wash and clean them. Once Trevor could drive and had his own car he started doing more rescue work and helped the Fox Project and Swan Sanctuary.
In 1993 Trevor lost his mum to cancer which had a big impact on his life which he struggled to deal with, but his voluntary work really help pull him through. “It was my mum which got me interested in animals and nature, we always had one animal or another at home, which she always said were the responsibility of my brother and I to look after and of course she would always be the one who ended up looking after them. They included chicken, terrapins, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, cats and dogs.” Said Trevor.
1996 saw Trevor attend the Sea Empress Oil Spill in Millford Haven in Wales. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was formed later that year after Trevor ran up a vets bill of over £1000 and was struggling to pay off the fees. Vet Robin Hooper from Downwood Vets in Horam, gave Trevor a challenge to set up his work as a voluntary group and get a committee and fundraising going, and in return Robin offered to cut Trevor’s bill in half. Trevor rose to the challenge and within 6 months East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was born.
“I owe Meta and Robin a lot as I don’t think I would be where I am today if it had not been for their influence and support for me and for seeing my potential. I learnt so much from them.” Said Trevor.
Trevor trained in computer programming and worked work various companies but undertaking his wildlife rescue work as his hours were flexible. The only time Trevor has not been able to undertake his rescue work was for about six months at the end of 1999, when he took on a programming job working in London. Eventually Trevor gave up this lucrative job earning over £32,000 a year in 2000 to come back to Sussex. Working just part Trevor then put a lot of his time into undertaking wildlife rescue work and trying to develop the organisation into a charity.
Over the years Trevor has also worked for International Animal Rescue in Uckfield and then moved over to their sister charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue where he became their National Co-ordinator helping to support volunteers around the country undertake whale, dolphin and seal rescues. Including helping going to Cumbria for a two week operation to save a dolphin trapped in a harbour and helping to training people in Canada in how to rescue marine life.
At one point Trevor had to reduce his rescue work for a couple of years after being warned by his doctor he was close to having a heart attack if he didn’t start taking it easy. Trevor has even ploughed all of his £10,000 savings into the charity to save it when it came close to closing back 2007.
In 2005 WRAS was formed as a registered charitable company. In 2010 Trevor moved to work part time for the charity on minimum wage thanks to sponsorship from International Animal Rescue and late 2010 WRAS opened the doors to its current Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith on the A22 between Hailsham, Uckfield and Lewes. The centre is now capable of holding up to 300 casualties at a time. In addition to this the charity has four veterinary ambulances and over 100 volunteers who work hard to keep the charity going.
The charity has grown to become an award winning charity and in 2010 the charity received an IFAW Animal Action Award at the House of Lords, in 2012 Trevor was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List receiving the MBE for services to animal welfare, later that year he received the BBC Sussex & Surrey Community Heroes Award for Animal Welfare, and in 2013 the charity won the Local Animal Charity of the Year in the ITV1 British Animal Honours. Trevor’s work has also been recognised by both the Eastbourne Herald and Gazette in 2005 when he won a Volunteer Award and in 2010 received an award from local radio station Sovereign FM.
“WRAS’s workload has always been much higher than it can cope with but we want to change that and help even more casualties than ever before! Millions of wildlife casualties are euthanized at vets up and down the country due to the lack of facilities for these casualties to go to, but in East Sussex they have WRAS and we are saving thousands of wildlife casualties as a result of the public support we receive. I find WRAS really fulfilling and get a great sense of pride from working with everyone at WRAS, they are a great team and so caring” said Katie Nunn Nash one of WRAS’s Duty Managers.
WRAS now receives about 3-4000 calls a year which is growing steadily, but is unable to deal with the workload, but is ever expanding its facilities to take in a help thousands of casualties every year. During peak time WRAS can receive over 120 calls a day. The average length of time it takes to deal with a call-out is 2.5 hours. This can be much lower at 15 – 20 minutes with simply cases close to the centre but rescues can turn into days, with Trevor’s longest rescue being almost 3 weeks based at Monkton Marshes in Kent in January 2003 when he slept in his ambulance in a field to help a flock of swans which every day kept hitting overhead power cables.
WRAS is asking people to either make a donation of £35 as it’s Trevor 35th year, or £25 as WRAS has been a voluntary group for 25 years or £15 as we have been a registered charity for 15 years or whatever amount they can afford to help support the expansion of the charity and to help increase the charities ability to increase the number of animals they can cope with.
“So many people congratulate me and say what a wonderful job I am doing, when in reality it is our hard working volunteers, generous supporters, and those who believed and had faith in my vision which should be thanked because without them we would not be here nor able to help the thousands of casualties we deal with” said Trevor “ I don’t know where the past 30 years have gone. We have certainly seen our highs and lows and dealt with some weird and wonderful situations.”
If you would like to make a donation:Credit/Debit Card: Click Here.PayPal: Click Here.Over the phone: Call 01825-873003 between 10am and 6pm.By Post: Send donation payable to "East Sussex WRAS" to:East Sussex WRAS, PO Box 2148, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 9DE.Thank you so much in advance for your continued support and helping us make such a difference to our precious local wildlife.Follow us!
Casualty Care Centre
Wildlife casualties can find veterinary centres very stressful due to the noise from cats, dogs, parrots, and human activity slowing down their recovery. WRAS decided it needed to help improve the situation by setting up its own Hospital. Despite operating several small units using sheds it was not till 2010 that WRAS managed to launch its current Hospital. WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre, based on the A22 between Hailsham and Uckfield. Over the next five years the charity slowly expanded and improved the facilities which is now able to take in just around 300 casualties at any one time, although this does depend on the range of species in care at the time. The Hospital has a treatment room, three hospital rooms, an indoor room divided into four indoor pens and aviaries, a prep room, volunteer rest area, orphan rearing area, education room, store and cold room for acclimatising animals like hedgehogs before moving them outside. WRAS has two registered vets and the centre is also registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
WRAS covers a large area of East Sussex and works with 11 different veterinary practices. These vehicles move around but are normally based either at the charities centre at Whitesmith and out of hours at Uckfield, Eastbourne and Polegate. The charity relies on volunteers to operate these ambulances and at night time it tries to keep two of these vans available. The ambulances carry a variety of equipment, from ladders, various nets, stretchers, first aid kits, dog graspers, swan hooks, and much more. WRAS ambulances have been involved in numerous rescues including helping to deal with a seal trapped in a nuclear power station, an albino deer with its antlers caught in a rope swing, a badger stuck in a disused swimming pool, a fox trapped in a drain, a bird caught up on a chimney, birds flying round inside a house, run over hedgehogs and much more.
WRAS also has a number of sites across the county where it does the outside rehabilitation of casualties. These include aviaries and pens of various sizes at Burgess Hill, Uckfield, Lewes, Eastbourne and Lower Dicker.
A number of WRAS’s volunteers, also help with the rehabilitation and over wintering of hedgehogs in runs and hutches in their gardens at home.
Award winning service
Trevor Weeks was recognised for his work helping wildlife in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2012, when he was awarded the MBE. The work undertaken by WRAS has also been recognised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare Animal Action Awards 2010 at a presentation at the House of Lords, the BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey Community Heroes Animal Welfare Award 2012 and the ITV1 British Animal Honours Awards 2013 for the local animal charity of the year.
On average it costs WRAS £85 to be on call for and respond to a call-out. The vans, the mobile phones, veterinary bills, equipment stored in the vans etc are expensive and need replacing on a regular basis.
Sarah Jane Honeywell
Casualty Care Centre team
Operations director: Trevor Weeks MBE
Lead Casualty manager: Katie Nunn Nash
Casualty Manager: Karen Francis
Animal Care Assistant: Holly Davis
Volunteer and Student Coordinator: Ellie Langridge
Receptionist: Kristy Sayer
Cleaner and Maintenance: Julie Stafford
Veterinary surgeons: Simon Harris BVSc Cert VR, MRCVS, Dr Chris Hall BVSc, MRCVS, Mike Symons MRCVS
All WRAS managers have completed or are currently studying towards Diplomas in Wildlife First Aid and Rehabilitation or similar qualifications in Animal Care and have completed the BHPS & Vale Wildlife Rescue’s Hedgehog Basic First Aid, Care and Rehabilitation Course.
British Hedgehog Preservation Society
British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council
European Wildlife Rehabilitation Association
East Sussex WRAS is a registered charitable company. Registered Charity Number 1108880. The Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith is registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as a Veterinary premise, Number 6548374.Follow us!
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in the UK on 25th May 2018. This will replace the existing Data Protection Act and introduce new legal requirements for charities, business and other organisations when processing individuals personal data.
East Sussex WRAS has always been concerned about Data Protection, protecting and respecting people's privacy.
If you wish to be removed from our Mailing List:
Please call 01825-873003 quoting the ID number which will be next to your address on any mailings we have sent you. Alternatively please e-mail email@example.com with your name, address, postcode and ID number and we will remove you too.
Please be aware that e-mail on this account is not checked daily so may take up to 2 weeks to be processed.
What and When Does WRAS Collect Personal Data?
WRAS currently only collects personal data for the following reasons:
1) When rescuing a casualty.
2) When processing a donation, on receiving a phone call or a donation through the post.
3) When a person asks to be added to WRAS Newsletter list.
WRAS has a database which records rescues and supporters information. WRAS records only the essential personal data:
- Address, Town, Post Code
- Phone Numbers
- E-mail Address when given.
WRAS also records information on:
- Donations received - date, amount, the reason for donation and Gift Aid Notification.
- Casualties - including species, date, the person who found the casualty, location where found, general assessment of the casualty and other relevant information relating to the Casualty and but not the finder.
Does WRAS Share, Buy or Sell Personal Information?
WRAS has always stated that it does not sell personal data to any other organisation nor has it ever purchased lists of personal data from other charities or agencies.
Occasionally casualties need to be passed to other organisations due to their specialist knowledge, facilities or equipment. It is necessary to pass over the finders contact details purely on animal welfare grounds to ensure casualties are treated and released correctly.
A tawny owl was found in the middle of a large wood. The finder took the owl home before contacting WRAS. The owl was collected from the finders home and admitted to WRAS. Due to a problematic fractured wing the bird was sent to another rescue centre further afield for a specialist vet to operate on the wing. Once recovered the owl needed to be returned to the exact location where found to ensure it was safely back in the birds home range. This required the finder showing rescuers exactly where the bird had been found, therefore the other rescue centre contact the finder direct.
WRAS is in the process of writing to all such organisations pointing out their responsibility to be compliant under the GDPR and the need for such information to be treated correctly.
These organisations are:
Folly Wildlife Rescue - Near Tunbridge Wells. RSPCA Mallydams Wood - Fairlight Hastings. Vale Wildlife Rescue, - Gloucestershire. Badger Trust Sussex - East Grinstead. Sussex Bat Group and the Sussex Bat Hospital at various locations. Swan Sanctuary - Sheperton. Bird Aid at Hailsham. Wildlife Aid - Leatherhead.
Where a criminal offence has occurred it may be necessary to pass on personal information to the relevant authorities giving details of any witnesses or persons involved.
What Does WRAS Use Personal Data for?
WRAS’s Database is used for three key areas:
- To met the requirements and recommendation (and sometimes legal requirements) of the Veterinary Medicines Directive, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon, British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council and various animal welfare legislation relating to the rescue of wild animals and bird for veterinary treatment, their safe rehabilitation and return to the wild.
- To met the requirements and recommendations of the Charities Commission and HMRC in the processing of donations with or without Gift Aid.
- To keep people who use our service informed of the work the charity undertakes and for encouraging support of our charity and its aims and objectives.
WRAS also uses its database for statistical analysis of casualty data but all addresses are used in an anonymous manner.
What is WRAS’s Current Policy on Direct Marketing?
Fundraising comes within the term “Direct Marketing” as set out by the GDPR.
After a consultation with people who received our newsletters back in 2012 it was decided that the majority of people felt between 4 and 6 mailing a year would be the right level of communication.
WRAS sends out 4-5 newsletters a year and 1-2 appeals or information letters a year only.
WRAS does not buy in personal data for marketing/fundraising purposes.
WRAS does not sell on personal data for any purpose.
When a rescue call is received the name and address is added to WRAS’s Database. A leaflet is handed out with each casualty to the finder giving further information as well as WRAS’s Contacted details stating…
“All names & addresses are kept on a confidential database which is not sold or passed to any other organization. If you do not wish to receive newsletters or other mailings from WRAS or would prefer to receive them by e-mail please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address and casualty reference from this leaflet asking to not receive any mailings.”
"Privacy Notice: Under the new fundraising and marketing guidelines it is considered “legitimate interest” to contact people who have made donations to our charity from time to time. You can call 01825-873003 at any time to stop future contact. Further details are on our website www.wildlifeambulance.org"
This is accompanied by a tick box to clearly tell us if you don't want us to contact you further with direct marketing.
All WRAS donation forms which contain personal information have clearly stated “If you would like to be removed from our mailing list please call 01825-873003 & quote your ID number”
If a person does not want to be sent any mailings then their status on the database is changed to reflect this by selecting “Zero—No mailing at all”. However their personal data is kept as it is a requirement of the Casualty Record and Patient care or Gift Aid.
On our database people have their mailing status changed to...
"Archive" if they have not made contact or made a donation for 12-18 months or more.
"Gone Away / Deceased" if envelopes are returned by Royal Mail with notes on or where people e-mail or call saying they are moving or where we have been informed that a person has died.
"Newsletter Only" some people have requested that we only send newsletter and not appeal letters so this option is selected.
Archived people will only be mailed to again if they use WRAS’s service at a later date, make a donation or request a newsletter.
"NO CONTACT" if the person has specifically requested no communication from WRAS. WRAS will delete or make anonymous records where possible unless the information is required gift aid or other such purposes.
Refreshing & Updating Data.
The Fundraising Regulator requires charities to review and refresh consent as appropriate stating that “The core question that organisations should consider in establishing their timescale for refreshing consent is not what the organisation would consider ‘reasonable’ for its own purposes, but for how long would the individual consider it reasonable to be contacted before they were asked to renew consent?”
The ICO and Fundraising Regulator suggests that a 24 month period may well be appropriate to renew consent as best practice.
WRAS’s current policy of mailing to contacts for up to 12-18 months would fall within this timescale. Before every mailing records are checked and up-to-date and those not heard from for 12-18 months are archived.