A BUSY year shows little sign of slowing down for one of Thurrock’s largely unsung heroic services.
The South Essex Wildlife Hospital at Orsett is a rescue, rehabilitation and public advice charity that looks after wild animals throughout the year.
After a hectic spring - when the hospital was particularly busy with recently-born animals losing their parents and being brought in for care, before hopefully being released back into the wild - followed by a summer of caring for injured animals spotted by the public through long, well-lit days, autumn brings its own challenges.
In recent days, the hospital has treated a number of wild animals – including a badger that got into trouble on the fourth floor of a block of flats!
Volunteers Nina and Sally made a dash to the building to rescue the distressed badger who was in danger of falling through the railings.
Back at the hospital, it was clear from its thin and dehydrated condition something bad had happened to him. He had suffered multiple wounds, the full extent of which could only be seen once the areas had been clipped and cleaned under sedation.
The wounds looked like sustained dog bites, not the usual injuries inflicted by another badger. However, thanks to the caring staff, the cub, which was traumatised, is making an impressive recovery, and although he needs treatment for internal parasites, it is hoped he will be ready to join a group due to be put in a new sett in a couple of weeks.
Thankfully, the work of the charity is recognised by local fundraisers, none more so than the Co-op’s Local Community Fund which has selected the hospital as a charity to be supported by members at two of its local stores - in Gardner Avenue, Corringham, and Stanford-le-Hope, High Street.
The money received from those member shoppers, is gratefully received and put to good use by the charity founded in 1995 by Sue Schwar, who, at the time looked after animals at her home as a hobby.
Her vision grew into the purpose-built facility in Orsett where the staff and volunteers often get between 10 and 50 phone calls a day, and frequently have 200 to 300 patients in the hospital at any one time.
No sick, injured or orphaned animal is turned away, requiring the hospital to operate seven days a week, with paid veterinary staff, a handful of dedicated volunteers - and Sue herself - who often have to work in hazardous conditions, late at night and in adverse weather.
Sue remains as passionate about the cause as ever.
“We cannot always guarantee to come out and collect an animal but l will always accept one brought to South Essex Wildlife Hospital,” she said.
“We have the only hospital facilities of its kind within our area, covering most of Essex, East London and North Kent.
“The cost of food, equipment, fuel and vet’s bills is met solely by public donations, for which we are extremely grateful. Without this valuable support, South Essex Wildlife Hospital would cease to exist, and we would be unable to prevent the suffering of many stricken wild animals in urgent and desperate need of our help.
"We are very grateful to all our supporters and particularly the Co-op and its member. Needless to say, we would not be able to help a single animal if it were not for that help.”
For more information on the South Essex Wildlife Hospital click here.