Running an animal sanctuary isn’t the type of life you choose because you want to get rich quick or take it easy. Full-on commitment is a pre-requisite. Coming close second is acceptance of the fact that small, daily acts of heroism are likely to go entirely unrewarded – have you ever seen a grateful swan? Then there’s the ongoing slog of simply staying afloat, non-stop fundraising, endless creative thinking and – often – juggling a day job at the same time.
It’s a labour of love and you don’t need to foster a donkey to show your appreciation. Dozens of animal sanctuaries all over the UK welcome visitors or need volunteers. Just as many wouldn’t mind a small donation and quite a few are delighted to come along to schools and talk to kids about what they do and why. So spare a thought for the kind-hearted and find out what’s happening at a sanctuary near you, right now.
Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Scottish Borders has the second largest colony of mute swans in the UK. Over 200 birds are in permanent residence and dozens more migrate to the algae-rich River Tweed during the winter moulting season. They’re an amazing sight and the Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust play a big part in making sure every bird is safe, healthy and protected.
Set up by a small team of locals in the early 90s, the Trust has successfully rescued and treated 1000s of swans over the years as well as countless other wild birds and animals in the Berwick-upon-Tweed area. You can visit by appointment or, better still, go see the swans on the river and make a donation.