A date with royalty for Swan Trust volunteers

Jenny and all five cygnets. Picture by John Peters
Jenny and all five cygnets. Picture by John Peters

FOUR of us had a “perk” last week. Usually, seeing successful releases of our patients is enough reward for the time and effort we all put into helping local wildlife, but the Duchess of Northumberland organised a party at Alnwick last week to thank carers and volunteers throughout Northumberland

It wasn’t until after our acceptances of the invitations had been confirmed that we discovered the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh would also be attending.

Did Pat and Anne need to buy hats? Top hats were non-starters for Dick and me. Informality was the keyword and we wore our Trust shirts with the logo prominently displayed.

When we learned that about 8,000 people would be attending, we thought we would be lucky to get a glimpse of the Royal couple from behind lots of other people. As luck would have it, Anne and I managed to get places right in the front and Her Majesty passed so close we could have reached out and touched her. Having all been vetted beforehand there were no security barriers between them and us. Anne was on a “high” for days afterwards and was only sorry that her mother, who had been a fervent Royalist, was no longer alive to hear about her daughter’s experience.

At the beginning of this month I told you how I had taken the one-winged Spittal swan to a private lake where he would not have to cross a road to get to food. Diamond, as he has now been named (following his predecessors Garnet, Amber and Opal, who also came from us), didn’t have very long to wait before he was joined by Ruby, who flew in and was initially chased off the water. She fluttered her eyelashes at him though and now they seem to have settled down as an item, with him presenting her with nesting material. His human guardian, Cathy, doesn’t know how to tell him it’s a bit late for this year. She is hoping for a Diamond/Ruby wedding next year. Sorry, her pun, not mine!

None of our visits to Eyemouth since the eggs hatched had coincided with the swans being around until last Thursday when Jock and Jenny and all five cygnets were swimming around in the harbour. How the bairns have grown since they hatched! This week’s picture, taken a couple of weeks ago, was kindly sent to me for publication by John Peters, A.R.P.S. In all my years of looking at swans I have never seen a youngster riding on its mother’s back, so I’m a wee bit jealous.

No column of mine would be complete without a scrounge. Have any of you got surplus lettuce? Has any of your lettuce bolted? It costs us an arm and a leg to buy sufficient to keep our swan patients happy so any we can get free of charge will be most welcome. Please contact us to arrange collection or, if you can deliver, so we can be at our HQ opposite the waste recycling site on the Ramparts Business Park to take it. We’ve just received a new (to us) freezer cabinet in which we will be able to store lots of heads – of lettuce.

BARRIE MORTIMER

Should you find an animal in need of our services, or if you need advice please phone HQ on (01289) 302882. We are happy to help. You can also e-mail via our website www.swan-trust.org. We are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/swantrust.

If you would like to donate to the Trust (cheques payable to B.S.W.T.),or to become a member please contact treasurer, Derek Roughton. Yew Tree Cottage, Branton, Alnwick, NE66 4LW. Phone (01665) 578365. The Trust is a registered charity No. 1064805.