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Charity dedicated to saving swans marks 30 year anniversary

Tara O'Connor

Tara O'Connor

Charity dedicated to saving swans marks 30 year anniversary

From a modest start in few back gardens, Swan Lifeline in Eton is still going strong after 30 years.

Staff, trustees and supporters gathered at the Compleat Angler in Marlow for a special anniversary celebration on Sunday, April 24.

The charity was originally founded in 1986 in Sunbury, in Surrey, and moved to Cuckoo Weir Island in Eton in 1992.

The three founding trustees were Tim Heron, Jane Castling and Ginny James.

Kay Webb, 74, has been involved with the charity since it started and became its chairwoman about 12 years ago. She moved to her flat on the Thames in Sunbury in 1983, where she still lives.

Soon after moving in, she met Zyllah Cooke who was by the river rescuing a cygnet. She ran charity Save Our Swans with husband Stephen.

One of the people that worked with her was Tim Heron, who would become a founding trustee of Swan Lifeline.

“I used to phone [Save Our Swans] up and say there is a sick swan here,” she said. “Then because, bearing in mind this was before mobile phones, when we couldn’t get hold of anyone I started rescuing them myself.”

Swan Lifeline became a registered charity in 1988, making it the oldest registered charity devoted to the care of sick and injured swans in the Thames Valley and surrounding area.

It moved to Cuckoo Weir Island, off Meadow Lane, when Eton College offered it the lease free of charge.

Kay estimates the charity helps about 1,000 abandoned or injured cygnets or swans a year at the centre, which employs full-time staff as well as having a team of volunteers. Sir Michael Parkinson is a patron.

Following  Sunday’s celebration, trustee Caroline Simpson, 60, said: “The support and enthusiasm for the work we do at Swan Lifeline was palpable; it is good to know that so many people appreciate what we do for the benefit of swans.”

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