An introduction to East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service

/ An introduction to East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service

Elena Barnard

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

An Award Winning Community Rescue Service:

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (East Sussex WRAS) was established as a voluntary group in 1996 and became a registered charity in 2004. Its founder Trevor Weeks MBE has been undertaking wildlife rescue and conservation work since 1985, when he was just 13-years-old.

His work has grown from a small part-time voluntary role searching for oiled Guillemots on the Sussex coastline, into a fully registered charity which now has four veterinary ambulances and a ‘Casualty Care Centre’ which is capable of caring for up to 125 wildlife casualties at a time.

WRAS is a small, local community charity which achieves big results. It has been recognised on a national level after it received the ITV1 British Animal Honours ‘Local Animal Charity Award 2013’ and the BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey ‘Community Heroes Award for Animal Welfare’. Founder Trevor Weeks was also presented with the MBE in 2012 in recognition of his services to animal welfare and won an IFAW (International Fund of Welfare) Animal Action Award in 2010.

WRAS is capable of dealing with most wildlife rescue situations and manages a wide range of casualties including: window stricken garden birds, road casualty foxes, badgers caught in snares, owls caught in netting, hedgehogs with strimmer wounds, bats that have been attacked by cats, swans caught in fishing line and much more.

All wildlife casualties are important to WRAS and regardless of whether the casualty is a pigeon suffering from a cat attack or a road casualty Tawny Owl, they will all be given the same care and attention they deserve, always with the aim of releasing them back into the wild.

Front Line Rescue Service:

East Sussex WRAS runs a completely voluntary frontline rescue service for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Out in all weathers, the small team of volunteers try their best to help as many people and casualties as they can.  WRAS’s ambulances respond to over 1,500 onsite calls per year.  The volunteers are not just a taxi service for the animals; they provide first aid and onsite support for both the casualties and the person who found the casualty.

A good example of this was a distressed lady who called from Princes Park in Eastbourne after spotting a swan with its leg caught in a metal grill across the Inlet River. One of the council gardeners managed to free the bird but it was badly injured and they were unsure what to do. The lady called WRAS extremely anxious about the condition of the swan and worried about how badly the leg was bleeding. WRAS knew they needed to act fast and an ambulance was on the scene within 30 minutes. The swan was caught but as it tried to move, blood starting pumping out of its leg. Rescuers quickly provided on site first aid by applying a trauma gauze, pressure pad and bandage to stem the bleeding.  The swan was then safety transported to WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre before being seen by a vet. The swan made a full recovery thanks to the life saving first aid provided onsite by WRAS.

 Casualty Care Centre:

WRAS’s new Casualty Care Centre is still in the development stage but is capable of taking up to 125 casualties at a time and is registered as a Veterinary Premises.   The centre has two consultant vets but also works with more than 10 other local veterinary practices too.  All of WRAS’s care team have received training from qualified vets as well as from other well established wildlife organisations to gain the necessary skills.

WRAS’s hospital deals with over 2,000 casualties a year. In the event that WRAS doesn’t have suitable facilities to look after a particular casualty, it will take the important decision to pass the casualty to another organisation which has either specialist knowledge or better facilities.

One of their recent patients was a very lucky young fox which was rescued from a brick works in Bexhill. The fox came in with very sore feet and a badly bleeding nose which had been burnt. The fox was assessed by one of WRAS’s vets and placed on to medication and had treatment for the burns.  The fox made a full recovery and was released back within his home range after a six week stay with WRAS.

Advice and Education:

As well as taking over 3,000 calls on its rescue and advice line every year, East Sussex WRAS works with local schools and animal care colleges to teach students about wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.  WRAS also provides work placements for students and those looking for back to work placements every year.

In addition to this, founder Trevor Weeks visits numerous schools, community groups, clubs and associations to give talks about the work of WRAS does in the local community and writes a weekly column in four local newspapers helping to educate the public about the importance of wildlife welfare.

Amazingly, WRAS is run by over 80 volunteers and has just three part-time employees who are on minimum wage and kindly put in extra hours as volunteers.  The service is funded by public donations and the average cost of being on call and responding to a single onsite call-out is £75.00.

Unlike their domestic and agricultural cousins, wildlife doesn’t have owners to look after them or to care for them when sick or injured, but here in East Sussex they do have East Sussex WRAS. Without WRAS thousands of wildlife casualties would needless die.

You can find out more about East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) at:

    Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.