Tributes to volunteer rescuer Dave, and our week of swans

Dave with an injured gull in a carrier SUS-180919-100146001
Dave with an injured gull in a carrier SUS-180919-100146001

When someone walks into reception asking to be a rescuer, followed by “I have terminal cancer” it comes as a bit of a shock. Firstly, that someone has limited time, secondly, they want to spend that time with us. That is exactly what Dave Fox-Dossett did. A larger than life character, filled with excitement about helping the wildlife of East Sussex.

In January Dave started his new role as a rescuer with us. Keen to learn everything and more. His prognosis took a back seat. It was forgotten about. On January 23 he did his first rescue on his own. A simple pigeon collection. He stayed late just to do the rescue. He messaged that night thanking us for the day he had: “It was so much more than I expected.” It just summed up what kind of person Dave was.

Family of swans from Pevensey Roundabout SUS-180919-100225001

Family of swans from Pevensey Roundabout SUS-180919-100225001

Dave had an incredible passion to learn and squeeze every bit out of his time with us. He wanted to understand everything, he even had “Brenda” his faithful 4x4 involved, towing our education trailer to events. His presence around our hospital was refreshing. Everyone he spoke to, you could see the effect he had on them. You could do nothing but smile with Dave. He lit up a room with his feel-good attitude.

Dave was always willing to help everyone, never afraid to get stuck in. Jumping on bins, falling through roofs, cleaning, you name it, he was grateful to be involved He wanted to be involved in everything. He was incredible with other volunteers and students, always thinking of them first and using his natural leader qualities to make sure they got the best out of their experience with us. He would take students under his wing and put them first. If it was a rescue he would push them to get involved, if it was a release he would let them open the cage door.

Dave said he would never make it as rescuer until he had been bitten by a fox. He got bitten by a fox cub on one rescue, he was disappointed to hear that we didn’t count that as it was only a cub! He did like to show off any wounds or injuries that he got himself into. He sent a message looking very proud of himself after he was caught by a gull. Nothing would stop him when he was on a rescue.

Sadly, the reality of his illness began to get the better of him and he was admitted to the wonderful care of St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne. On September 6 just after 5.35am, surrounded by loved ones, he passed away. Even when he walked through the reception door nine months ago we knew this day would come, but because of who he was we had almost forgotten he was ever sick.

Dave will be incredibly missed by all. He has touched the hearts and souls of everyone that knew him here at WRAS. He has not only helped so many animals, but also, he made close friends and became part of the WRAS family. His smile, his laugh and his care free attitude will always be remembered. We all hope that we gave Dave an experience he would never forget, in return we had a rescuer and a friend that will never be forgotten.

Its been a week of swans! Rescuers were called to an injured cygnet in Wallsend Road, Pevensey, after it was spotted in the road with its family suffering a potential broken wing. Once back at the hospital a nasty infected open fracture was noted and our care team cleaned out the wound, treated the cygnet and bandaged him up.

The following day a lady turned up at our Casualty Centre with a blooded swan under her arm. Her dogs unfortunately attacked the swan out on the Pevensey Levels, so she dived in the water after the swan and amazingly managed to catch it. We rushed the swan straight into our first aid room where the swan needed emergency medication and treatment. There was a puncture wound by the shoulder which was bleeding which we had to stop. An open wound on the chest had to be cleaned out and filled with wound gel and a temporary suture to hold the flap of skin in place. This swan and the cygnet from the previous day were then transported up to the Swan Sanctuary. Rescuer Victoria drove the swans and I up to the Swan Sanctuary. I went to monitor the swan during transport. Mel and Steve met us when we arrived, where the swan was quickly sorted out and bedded down for the night. Big thank you to the Swan Sanctuary for all their help.

The next day, rescuer Karen had to rush out to a family of swans wondering on the busy Pevensey roundabout. Thank you to Sussex Police for their assistance on such a busy road. The cygnets were caught and loaded into the ambulance and transported back to WRAS’s Casualty Centre, where they stayed for the night. After advice from the Swan Sanctuary we returned the swans to the nearby river and released them the following day.