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Wildlife is Bev's passion

PUBLISHED: 10:19 06 May 2010 | UPDATED: 10:33 13 July 2010

Bev Cosse from the Sea and Bird Rescue Trust.

Bev Cosse from the Sea and Bird Rescue Trust.

BEV Cossé's parents were forever having to apologise to neighbours in Melbourne for their daughter's 'borrowing' habits.

Little Bev would turn up with someone's puppy or kittens, convinced that “I knew better than anyone else how to look after them!”

Now nearly 70, Bev is still driven by a passion for animal welfare and has been in charge of the Seal and Bird Rescue Trust at Ridlington for some 14 years.

BEV Cossé's parents were forever having to apologise to neighbours in Melbourne for their daughter's 'borrowing' habits.

Little Bev would turn up with someone's puppy or kittens, convinced that “I knew better than anyone else how to look after them!”

Now nearly 70, Bev is still driven by a passion for animal welfare and has been in charge of the Seal and Bird Rescue Trust at Ridlington for some 14 years.

Bev left Australia and began travelling the world when she married French diplomat Jean-Paul Cossé.

His postings included Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Libya, Egypt, Dubai, Iraq - and Birmingham.

Bev relished and respected each culture, immersing herself in local life. In Saudi she trekked across the desert for three weeks to a pre-Islamic archaeological site. In Johannesburg she ran a multi-race business, and she learned about birds of prey and other wildlife in Zimbabwe.

The couple decided to educate their son in England and bought a home in Baconsthorpe. Bev began fund raising for the Ridlington charity in its earlier guise and later became its chairman.

She and her supporters have transformed the trust, repaying the debts they inherited and rebuilding and improving its infrastructure and reputation.

Today it boasts spacious aviaries, heated reptile tanks, an education centre, exhibition area, and comfortable facilities for the many volunteers who help the trust's work, ranging from phD students to children with behavioural problems.

The trust aims to rescue, rehabilitate and release whenever possible but some arrivals, due to injuries or because they are captive-bred, become permanent residents.

They include Billy the swearing jackdaw, who arrived in poor health from a hotel where he had been fed on dog food, crisps and biscuits, and three eagle owls, one of which had been kept in a single-bed flat in Norwich.

Bev will go and assess distressed seals but takes them to RSPCA facilities at East Winch if she believes they need help.

She is a familiar sight at festival and fetes throughout the area, allowing the public to handle birds of prey and snakes, but always drumming home the message that they belong in the wild and should not be bought as pets.

The trust's growing annual running costs are a constant headache for Bev who has just spent £470 on enough dead chicks to keep her charges happy for about three months.

But the rewards, for both the wildlife and the many volunteers who gain self-esteem and pleasure from working with them, are worth it.

She said: “I have had an absolutely fantastic life and I feel very strongly that I must put something back.”

What's the best thing about your work?

“Releasing animals and seeing youngsters gain confidence in themselves”

.. and the worst?

“Knowing I might have failed.”

Favourite film, book and TV programme

Film: The Deerhunter; book: The Marsh Arabs (Wilfred Thesiger); TV: Larkrise to Candleford.

Favourite place in Norfolk

“Baconsthorpe Castle has an enormous sense of age and peace.”

What one piece of music would you take to a desert island?

“Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor”

Describe yourself in three words

“Over-confident, demanding, imperious”

Tesco in North Norfolk towns - yes or no?

“I hate Tesco. It provides jobs for the community but it takes away from small shops.”

In what other era would you like to have lived?

“In the days of the great explorers - I would love to have seen places previously unknown and untouched.”

What's man's greatest invention?

“Electricity. So much else that we depend on wouldn't work without it.”

Pet hates

“Man's inhumanity to man.”

What do you eat for a treat?

“Maple-syrup butter fudge.”

What did you get from your parents?

“Father wanted me to read avidly. Mother taught me to be conscious of other people's needs and told me that I was no better than anyone else and no-one was any better than me.”

Hero/heroine?

“Sir Edmund Hillary”.

What one law would you introduce?

“Abolishing surveillance cameras. Our lives are no longer private.”

Global warming - myth or reality?

“Reality. I think most of it is a natural phenomenon. We have contributed to some of it but nowhere near as badly as politicians and scientists would have us believe.”

What's your Room 101 (greatest fear)?

“Dementia”.

How do you relax?

“Gardening. I love it.”


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