Anyone involved in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation anywhere in the world will almost certainly have heard of Les Stocker, founder of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, based in Haddenham in the UK.
His story has been replicated many, many times since he took in his first casualty in 1978. At that time, wildlife rehabilitation in the UK was virtually unknown and it was commonplace for an injured wild animal to be ‘put out of its misery’ as nobody had the knowledge, the time or the facilities to try to save them and not very many people really cared about the number of animals suffering, mainly because of us.
Les and his wife Sue cared enough to try to help the wildlife that nobody else would and that is where it all began. Today, Tiggywinkles is the largest wildlife teaching hospital around, treating thousands of casualties every year and training many other people in what is now a recognised profession – wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.
My story was almost identical to this when 6 years later in 1984 I was presented with an injured tawny owl that had been hit by a car. There was no internet in those days so I couldn’t Google ‘How do I treat an injured owl?’ All I could do was to visit my local library, where I found a book called ‘Something In A Cardboard Box’ by Les Stocker. I read it from cover to cover and I was hooked – that is when Vale Wildlife Hospital was born. 32 years later, we too have one of the busiest and well-respected wildlife hospitals in the country, treating thousands of casualties every year.
Les was my inspiration and, although we didn’t always see eye to eye on some methods or practices, I can honestly say that Vale Wildlife Hospital would not exist today had it not been for the reading of that book.
Rest In Peace Les, an inspiration to me and many hundreds, probably thousands of people.