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WINNERS 2014

CAROLINE GOULD

When a local vet asked Caroline 30 years ago if she would look after an injured tawny owl, the experience inspired her to set up her own wildlife hospital.

Caring for the owl made animal-lover Caroline think about the huge number of injured wild animals with no-one to help them.

Caroline resolved to do more to help sick, injured and orphaned wildlife and in 1984  founded Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre in her family home.

After eight years, Caroline and her family decided to sell their house and buy a mobile home to live in - freeing up money to buy land, aviaries and other enclosures and equipment for their animal patients.

In the late 1990s Vale Wildlife was granted planning permission for its present hospital building in Beckford, Gloucestershire, which was completed in 2001 after a £200,000 fundraising drive, spearheaded by Caroline.

Today, the wildlife hospital employs 12 people and treats about 4,500 casualties a year.

Of these casualties, 99 per cent have sustained injuries from humans, including through road traffic accidents, mower and strimmer incidents, building work and snares.

Animals helped by Caroline before being released back into the wild include squirrels, rabbits, fox and badger cubs, hedgehogs, deer, geese, polecats and even skunk. 

She is regularly up throughout the night to tend to baby animals who need food or fluids every half an hour and also runs an 8am to 8pm helpline for anybody needing advice about sick, injured or orphaned British wildlife.