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PETS AND THEIR PEOPLE: SAVE OUR SWANS; Birds face death unless YOU give cash to save sanctuary.

Byline: By BRITT COLLINS

HUNDREDS of beautiful swans will have to be put down unless YOU help a cash-strapped rescue centre.

Sandy and Nick Lee have sold their home and pumped pounds 50,000 into the Bishops Wood sanctuary.

But it faces closure unless they can stump up another pounds 20,000 to buy their rented land.

Sandy, 50, said: "We're really struggling. We've sold everything we have, run up debts and owe thousands to our vet.

"We're hoping People readers will help save the centre. It's our last hope. We can't let these animals be destroyed."

Nearly 3,000 swans, ducks and geese have been nursed by the couple, son Jamie, 12, and a team of volunteers in the past three years.

Lorry driver Nick, 54, said: "More than 70 per cent of the birds are injured by fishermen. Some suffer from lead poisoning and others have been beaten up and shot at with air rifles.

"We had one young cygnet with seven pellets taken out of her body.

"She was drenched in blood and we thought she was going to die but amazingly she made a full recovery."

Most birds are released back into the wild. There are also 200 handicapped birds that live in five freshwater pools at the base near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcs.

Sandy and Nick originally set up base in the garden of their former home in Droitwich.

Sandy added: "We've been saving birds for 20 years.

"It began when we were living on the canal and a swan with a broken wing came to Nick. He spent hours on the phone calling wildlife hospitals to get help. In the end we took her to the vet then nursed the bird back to health ourselves."

The couple sold their pounds 80,000 house to help with the charity's running costs and pay rent on the land at Bishops Wood.

But the owners now want to sell the two-and-a-half acre site and Sandy and Nick need another pounds 20,000 to meet the pounds 50,000 asking price.

Sandy, who faces the heart-breaking task of crating up birds to be destroyed, said: "It's devastating. We've put so much into this place and now we've got to go.

"It doesn't matter about us but these birds have endured so much misery and pain already."

CAPTION(S):

CUTE: Cygnets at the centre; CARE: Jamie & Sandy; HORROR: Bloodied swan; MAJESTIC: Rescued swan
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2005
Words:402
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