Within our town there exists a small, passionate network of ordinary people striving to help protect our local wildlife. From wounded kittiwake chicks falling off Spa bridge, to lost duck eggs rolling along Valley Road, we should take great comfort knowing that amongst our society everyday people are taking the time to collect our wounded animals.
One such individual is Rachael Holliday, a local resident of Swan Hill Road and previous business owner of a wooden fireplace manufacturer. As a passionate wildlife enthusiast, she runs a daily commute between Scarborough and Whitby collecting wounded animals within the Scarborough area and taking them to the Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary at Broomfields Farm. She runs what can only be best described as an ‘animal ambulance’, as she is regularly inundated with calls from locals who have either collected or spotted wounded animals out and about.
It is quite astonishing to hear of all the many wonderful and heroic stories, whereby herself and ordinary people have taken great measures to save the life of an innocent creature, from a local man storing coastal birds in his spare room, to another keeping wounded pigeons in the bath. For those familiar with the popular ITV series The Durrells this might appear familiar, to another hilarious, but to us all it highlights the passion of our local community to care for our wounded wildlife and the extent that everyday people will go to save them.
One story, demonstrating Rachael’s own commitment, is a time she saved a herring gull from one of the ponds in Peasholm Park. After receiving a call from Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary, she immediately set out to the bird’s aid, as she trekked across town with wellies, cat cage and towel to hand, for she was on this particular occasion without her ‘ambulance’.
After eventually reaching Peasholm, her well attuned eyes were easily able to spot the distressed animal, as its wing trailed desperately through the water, leaving a recognisable mark across the surface. After wading through the deceptively shallow depths, she managed to throw the now soaking towel over the gull, in an attempt to bring it closer towards her. However, in her efforts to save the creature, neither her wellies nor strength alone could free her from the sticky sediments underfoot, as she found it more and more difficult to move. Altough she was stuck she did not abandon her commitment to save this innocent life, as she continued to cradle the bird above the water’s surface. It was only after passers-by had realised her distress that both gull and Rachael were saved.
It isn’t only her work with the Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary that is admirable, but also her own commitment towards the wellbeing of badgers.
If anyone has ever wandered down North Street, at the rear of the Opera House Casino, you may have noticed a small shop selling various secondhand curiosities. Within this intimate environment you will find Rachael. It is here, out of a garage she has rented for many years, that she tries to raise funds for various animal welfare charities, in particular the Badgers Trust, whose work is mostly directed towards the opposition of the badger culling and the general promotion of the welfare of badgers. When asked why she chooses to open the small shop, she modestly replies, “I just enjoy it”, a perfect testament not only of character, but of also the simple pleasures one can find through the natural world.
It is through such individuals that we can realign our humanity, take stock of what is important and realise that supporting nature isn’t solely of benefit to our environment, it is also of benefit to ourselves. We should therefore keep our eyes peeled for any fallen herring gull chick, any stumbling lamb, any wounded hedgehog and give Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary a call on 07342 173 724 and within no time someone like Rachael will be on their way.