Trevor starts his 25th year helping wildlife

In the Autumn of 1985 Trevor Weeks joined Eastbourne Conservation volunteers and it was whilst undertaking a beach cleaning exercise near Cow Gap, Eastbourne Trevor came across his first wildlife casualty. They were two oiled guillemots, after climbing over rocks and getting splashed by waves the two birds were rescued and taken to Meta Mann who ran a small bird hospital from her home in Seaford.

From here onwards Trevor used to jump on the bus or train to Eastbourne, Newhaven or Brighton and walk the beaches during school winter holidays checking for oiled seabirds. When he found one he would catch it, put it inside a special carrier and jump back on the bus to Seaford to deliver the casualties to Meta.

Trevor's love of animals grew over time, encouraged by his mother. He was soon volunteering helping groups like the Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group, Southdown's Badger Group, Fox Project, Swan Sanctuary and many other individuals who used to run small wildlife rescue set-ups from their homes across Sussex.

Trevor was appointed the warden of Hailsham Common Pond by Hailsham Town Council after complaining about the state and condition of the pond as well as having to rescue numerous birds with injuries. This he gave up due to problems at college, Hailsham resident goose on Hailsham Common Pond was rescued by Trevor after the goose became blind in both eyes. Trevor helped rescue the goose who was given a new secure home.

In the 1990s Trevor spent some time running the National Terrapin Project which looked at the problem of people dumping terrapins in park ponds and studied the problem discovering over 2000 terrapins having been dumped over 250 different locations across the UK.

After college Trevor settled down working as a computer programmer for a market research company at Uckfield. His works were flexible and he was able to continue responding to wildlife calls.

Trevor started working with Jean Tyler at Bexhill who he learnt a lot from about fox rescue and helped them care for a very memorable fox called the “Dungeness Fox” who had an amazing red nose and red markings to the body and tail. Trevor even took this fox to work to help look after the very sick animal, which unfortunately had to be put to sleep in the end despite all their hard work.

As more and more independent rescuers closed down Trevor found it more and more necessary to take casualties direct to vets and started paying for their treatment out of his own pocket. Downwood Vets at Horam were a great support and Trevor learnt a lot from vet Robin Hooper who owned the practice. Robin was very supportive both financially offering discounts and through advice and guidance.

In 1993 Trevor's mum died of cancer which was a difficult time for him and his work helping wildlife was a way of pulling through this and keeping him going.

Trevor was asked by British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Redbrook Wildlife Rescue at Buxted to help out at the Sea Empress Oil Spill in Millford Haven, Wales in 1996. Trevor spent 2½ weeks there helping to medicate and clean oiled seabirds before being joined by the Swan Sanctuary who took over.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was formed in the late 1990s as a voluntary group but it wasn't till 2005 that the group became East Sussex WRAS as a registered Charity. Val and Murrae Hume joined Trevor in 1997 and are still helping over 10 years later. It was in the late 1990s that Trevor had his first sign written ambulance, a ford escort estate car. It also saw the start of Trevor dealing with deer casualties. In the late 1990s Trevor was offered a £32,000 a year salary to work in London doing a similar job computer programming but this meant that helping wildlife was not possible. Not surprisingly he lasted 6 months before he had to leave and return to Sussex.

At the time Trevor was living at Peacehaven and his partner at the time helped him run a small wildlife hospital from their home. On numerous occasions Trevor would have to get up every 2 hours through the night to hand feed baby hedgehogs or fox cubs. This was certainly a struggle trying to work full time too as well as fundraise to pay for the food, and veterinary treatment of the casualties. At weekends Trevor would attend boot fairs with WRAS fundraiser Jules getting up early in order to load up, set up and raise funds. It is estimated that Trevor has directly helped raised over £150,000 for WRAS as a result of fundraising events, talks, meeting trusts and raised even more indirectly via his rescue work. This is not to include the thousands of pounds spent out of his own pockets over the past 24 almost 25 years now.

In the early 2000s Trevor developed back problems and had to leave his desk job. To keep mobile Trevor continued his voluntary work helping wildlife but found it a struggle to earn enough to pay for food, petrol and veterinary expenses. This is when Alan Knight OBE from International Animal Rescue offered Trevor a job working for them part time. This really helped Trevor push forward with his voluntary work and developing WRAS.

In 2002 saw Trevor being called to rescue an Atlantic White Sided Dolphin at Newhaven West Beach which unfortunately had to be euthanased due to a bacterial brain infection. Later that year Trevor started a major campaign to stop the unnecessary cull of badgers in the middle of Saltdean. Neighbours alerted Trevor of the arrival of traps and a 24 hour a day demonstration started outside the houses which lasted almost 4 days. The peaceful demonstration hit local TV and front pages of the Argus with regular radio interviews too. This result in the traps being removed and the National Badger Trust becoming involved along with Professor Stephen Harris from Bristol University working with Trevor and DEFRA to find a solution so the residents could have their gardens back without the badgers being destroyed.

Dot and Steve from the Swan Sanctuary asked Trevor to help with a site called Monkton Marshes neat Ramsgate in Kent back in 2003 and spent over two week, including his birthday, living in the back of his ambulance, helping to rescue swans which were flying into power cables. When the team first arrived over 170 dead swans were counted across the fields.

In 2006 Trevor was sent to Maryport in Cumbria to help study and rescue a dolphin trapped inside a marina. After several weeks and an amazing rescue involving a crane, draining the marina, working with the Inshore Rescue Boat, RSPCA, Fire Brigade, and Police the dolphin was returned to the sea.

Trevor has since switch to working for British Divers Marine Life Rescue which Alan Knight is the chairman for at Uckfield. Working 3 days a week Trevor is able to afford a flat living at the Sussex Horse Rescue Centre in Uckfield. The rest of Trevor's time is spent dealing with casualties or the administration and fundraising etc within WRAS frequently working 15 hours or more a day to help wildlife in need.

The valuable work undertaken by Trevor and the other WRAS volunteers has been featured on local news as well as on BBC1's Animal 24:7 programme.

It is estimated that Trevor has helped deal with over 15,000 casualties over the past 24 years. Currently WRAS volunteers are dealing with up to 3000 calls about casualties a year.

WRAS now has a Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith and works closely with Folly Wildlife Rescue, Kit Wilson Trust, Swan Sanctuary, St Tiggywinkles, RSPCA Mallydams Wood as well as the Sussex Bat Hospital, local Badger Groups and the Fox Project, of which Trevor and WRAS would like to express their deepest thanks for their support over the years.

More recently Trevor has helped Les Stocker founder of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital with a deer trapped inside the grounds of Haslar Naval Hospital in Gosport, Hampshire. Trevor worked with Les and staff from St Tiggywinkles in catching the deer and transporting it for release at a near by nature reserve.

The work which Trevor and WRAS has undertaken over the past 24 years would not have been possible if it was not for the WRAS volunteers who have helped fundraise and to the many people who have made donations to WRAS, to these people and our volunteer rescuers and carers past and present WRAS would like to say thank you.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958

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