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Award nomination for swan rescuer.

Byline: Emma Brady

A Worcestershire pensioner who has spent half her life rescuing swans and wild fowl is the latest Midlander to be nominated for a major community award.

Jan Harrigan, who runs the Swan Rescue Centre from her home in Wychbold, near Droitwich, began saving the graceful birds when she found a swan with a broken wing on her farm in 1970.

The 70-year-old, who is among candidates for the Midlander of the Year award, has since dedicated her time to helping ducks, geese and swans in distress.

With a team of ten volunteers, she has helped rescue more than 600 birds a year and is battling to reduce the number that die after being poisoned by lead shot used by anglers.

Although the Government banned the use of some lead weights in fishing in 1987, Mrs Harrigan is campaigning for all shots to be outlawed as the number of birds poisoned increases each year.

'I want to change the law so it would be illegal for anglers to use any form of lead shots or weights on fishing tackle or to have any of it about their person,' said Mrs Harrigan.

'The Environment Agency recognises there is a problem but has not yet accepted it's from angling. They've said it's down to us (water users) not just anglers -but that's nigh on impossible to prove.

'Our rescue work started out as a sideline but has become more of a full time job, although I do enjoy it.

'I feel there's a reason for me to be doing this work, and whenever I go down to the river at Worcester, Shrewsbury or wherever, the swans come over to me because they realise I'm on their side.'

Mrs Harrigan spends more than pounds 12,000 a year on caring for sick birds.

'I couldn't do this without my volunteers, but that said I just wish I could do more for them, it's heart-breaking to see so many suffering.

'There's a lot of education needed so people would know how to treat other living beings as well as other humans. There'd be an outcry if people were poisoned in this way.'


Jan Harrigan with an injured cygnet
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 28, 2003
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