Tributes paid to Scarborough animal rescuer

Jim Ward pictured with one of his birdigans in 1991
Jim Ward pictured with one of his birdigans in 1991

A Scarborough man who dedicated more than 30 years to rescuing wildlife along the coast has died.

Jim Ward, who was made a freeman of the borough in 2015, spent decades rescuing animals in need at all hours of the day and night.

Jim Ward pictured for his official retirement in 2014

Jim Ward pictured for his official retirement in 2014

Over the years he’s come to the aid of countless seabirds and other creatures like badgers, roe deer and even a coatimundi – a type of South American racoon.

Only retiring in 2014 after he suffered a heart attack on his 80th birthday, those close to him said Jim was still caring for wildlife.

Originally from Newlay, West Yorkshire, Jim said his passion for wildlife was passed down to him from his mother.

His granddaughter, Natalie Ward, 31, recently rekindled a relationship with Jim after more than 20 years apart.

She said: “I haven’t really had a relationship with him for the last 20 years, but I’ve been back in touch with him since the end of last year.

“I’ve loved being able to rekindle that granddaughter/grandfather relationship. I wish that things had been different and we would have been in touch.

“I’ve loved the last four or five months with him and getting to know him. I’m such a huge animal lover and I’ve been involved in quite a few animal charities.

“Although I didn’t really know him it’s nice to think that we had that in common and they I maybe got that passion from him.”

Jim was first inspired to take care of birds after rescuing a jackdaw from the tower of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.

It spurred him on to learn more about seabirds.

In the years to come he cared for countless guillemots, razorbills and puffins, which would be covered in oil in the late 90s as tankers would pump out old oil off the East coast.

The problem prompted Jim to invent the ‘birdigan’ - a jumper sleeve which could be slid onto a bird until it was cleaned so it wouldn’t preen and poison itself.

Over the years Jim had a charity shop, in Dean Road, where he ran the service from for 18 years.

He later bought land for a sanctuary in a two-and-a-half acre field near Robin Hood’s Bay and built a number of aviaries and other facilities where recuperating animals and birds could be housed.

In between rescuing animal and working, Jim found time to write books about his wildlife experience.

His funeral will take place on Thursday April 26 at 12.40pm at Woodlands Crematorium. The wake will follow at the Crown Tavern pub from 1.30pm onwards.