I’m off to rescue wildlife in East Sussex
After my 24 hour walk round London looking for animals in distress (and saving 3 maggots and a few micro-fish) I felt pleased that I’d managed to complete the hellish walk but also spectacularly foolish for even trying. I mean, what was I thinking?
I do admit, the night trek did get me somewhat closer to the mysterious creatures of London’s night (and I include the silent men of Epping Forest here) but it was clear to me that my compassion alone wasn’t going to get me far.
There must have been better ways I could have helped more animals in 24 hours.
I could have worked non-stop in MacDonalds for 24 hours and then given all the earnings to a charity that actually knows what the hell they are doing, like WSPA or Compassion in World Farming. I might conceivably have done more animal-good by throwing all my cash at a roulette wheel, spending half the winnings on cocaine and prostitutes and the giving the other half to promoting veganism. And still having time for 10 hours sleep. It doesn’t bear thinking about. I can see that other version of me out there : he’s walking around in a white tuxedo, with two rescued dolphins under his arms, a huge bag of maggots, a thick head of hair, and living only off mung beans. Actually that’s a weird image but you get my point: effort isn’t enough, results are what matter.
What more do I have to do to really help?
I don’t want to just give money to charities. I don’t want to only lobby politicians. I don’t want to merely take pictures. I want to ACTUALLY help.. with my hands!
I asked Ann, still in America, to help me do some research with Google.
Could we find anywhere in the UK where I coudl help directly? (Have I said before that Ann is better at me at internet search? – well it’s true, her skills make mine look like those of a child hitting the keyboard with a plastic hammer). You may wonder why only in the UK. Surely animals are having a pretty shit time in countries further afield than Kent. Yes, but before I leave this land of so called ‘animal lovers’ I’m determined to make a difference here on my door step.
Ann found a few places for me, including the world’s biggest hedgehog rescue centre just outside London. But the place that really stood out was a ‘Wildlife and Ambulance service’ in East Sussex called WRAS (see link on the right). It sounded professional and fairly small and whats more they said they took on volunteers. Their founder, Trevor Weeks, had recently been given an MBE for his work, so I suspected he knew what he was doing. It was also fairly exciting: I imagined a white van with blue flashing lights racing across the South Downs transporting moles to the hospital. Perhaps I could be the driver?
At this point you may be thinking: isn’t this story meant to be about one man helping animals on his own? Is joining up with an organisation not sort of cheating?
Perhaps you are right.
But I’m beginning to see the interconnectedness of all things. There isn’t an awful lot we can do TRULY on our own. If I find a dog in distress, frothing at the mouth, I can get it to shelter, I can even feed it, but at some point I’ll need a vet. If I climb Everest on my own I’m going to be using clothes that other people have made and fly there in a plane that others have designed. (As a short aside this reminds me of the incredible story of Maurice Wilson, the 1930’s explorer, who was found frozen to death half way up Everest all by himself apparently wearing women’s underwear whilst some time later a woman’s shoe was mysteriously found at 21,000 feet. Click here to read more. I really don’t want to die like him. I really don’t want to be found eaten by wolves in a cold forest having been wearing just suspenders and a bra).
I think it’s valid that I try and help as effectively as I can even if I am using other people’s help to do so. Where possible I must directly help the animal.
I called up East Sussex WRAS and explained what I was looking to do. There was silence on the phone.
‘Er,’ I tried to explain ‘I’m spending a year trying to help animals you see. Seeing how much difference one man can make’
‘Do you have any particular knowledge of any animals?’
‘Not really. But I can drive a car’
I was speaking to the head man himself who seemed, understanably enough, a little cautious. But he was also patient and to his credit was willing to take my word: after I sent him my link to this blog he agreed to take me on for a week. And it turned out the rescue centre was not far from where my mother lived in Heathfield so I could stay with her for the period. Perfect!
‘You can come and work with us on one acccount’ he said
‘That you work with the other volunteers cleaning out the animal cages and feeding the patients. The day starts at 9am and finishes at 7pm. Then you can be on 24 hour call with me helping with rescues…. IF they come in that is’
What had I let myself in for?
I wanted to save moles not clean their houses. And 24 hour call? Could 8 of those 24 hours be reserved for sleep…. preferably just after the olympics finishes on TV and just before my mum makes me breakfast like she did when I was a child?
Oh well. I agreed to go down and help him immediately.