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Simon Cowell MBE | Founder of Wildlife Aid Foundation, Leatherhead

It is with great sadness that we heard of Simon Cowell’s death last week after a long fight with cancer. His funeral will be at Brockham Anglican Church at 12.30 p.m. on 4th July 2024. The committal will then be at Randalls Road Crematorium.

Simon had a career in the City before he became so involved with rescuing wild animals in distress. I first met him in 1981 when I took an injured bird to him in his kitchen where most of the work was carried out. I have seen that one-man venture blossom into the large, nationally-known registered charity, Wildlife Aid Foundation. It has been responsible for the rescue and rehabilitation of thousands and thousands of wild birds (from the tiny to the huge), foxes, badgers, deer, reptiles, hedgehogs, and many others. Indeed, they now deal with over 20,000 wildlife-related incidents each year and it is a 24/7 job. How could it be otherwise with so many baby animals to nurture?

WAF’s website tells us that one in seven species in the UK are faced with extinction and that 50% of all British species are in decline. The Wildlife Aid Foundation exists to protect and care for as many native species as possible and to create a world where humans are more compassionate and empathetic to wild animals of all kinds.

Veterinary surgeons carry out the necessary surgery, and give the appropriate medical care, and 300 volunteers provide all the hard work of cleaning, tending, feeding, and general care. Some are responsible for education and outreach, as Simon’s mission was to educate as many people as possible to care for our wild animal neighbours. He was a strong believer in that education was the answer!

Volunteers give school talks and presentations and invite as many as possible to learn about our wildlife heritage. They provide help and support to anyone needing it, and they provide work experience for students all across the country. They also liaise with agricultural and training establishments to provide help with the wildlife sections of animal care courses.

Simon started in his kitchen and eventually his whole garden and estate were taken over by wooden buildings to house sick, injured, and healing animals, but his dream was to build a new Wildlife Aid Centre, tailor made for it multifaceted functions. Through fund-raising, bequests, and grants, Simon managed to buy the land, and it is well on the way to being landscaped. Two huge wildlife ponds have been constructed and they are already teaming with life. All that is needed now is funding to construct the essential buildings, and set up the teaching centre which will include teaching facilities for vets who have never been trained in dealing with wild animals.

We do hope that the people in Mole Valley and beyond recognise that this centre is a jewel in the crown and give generously to support it. The running costs are enormous, as you can imagine, but the funds for the new centre must be found. Please give generously and remember you have a place to take the injured or sick animal whenever you find one.

Patricia Wiltshire (Independent Councillor for Ashtead)


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