Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre

Volunteer is a driving force for wildlife as RSPCA looks for more help

Volunteering with the RSPCA has offered a Cheshire man the opportunity to drive his passion for wildlife - and now the animal charity is looking for more recruits as part of the King’s Big Help Out.

Tim Jones spent much of his working life as a BT project manager tied to a desk. But after retirement, he has relished his role as a volunteer driver working from RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire.

Tim - who has volunteered for the last four years -  is always on standby to help out the centre’s work by transporting sick and injured wildlife for treatment and rehabilitation.

The RSPCA couldn't do the work it does without its army of volunteers -  and helpers like Tim collected, transported and released nearly 2,400 wild animals last year.

Now the charity wants to recruit more volunteers to help wildlife this summer as part of the Big Help Out on May 8, the large country-wide volunteering initiative to mark King Charles III’s Coronation celebrations. The RSPCA is urging people to sign up as a ‘Wildlife Friend’ and pledge to undertake some simple wildlife-friendly tasks and join thousands of others making a difference.

In his volunteer role Tim drives many miles across the country supporting the RSPCA’s work, although he is close at hand for his duties as he lives in Nantwich, a short distance from Stapeley Grange.

He says avian flu has affected some of his work, but as restrictions have been eased he has found his workload increasing again in recent weeks.

Some of his memorable collections have included transporting seals, while he has also helped to release seals on the North Wales coast with some of the Stapeley staff.

Tim (pictured), who combines his RSPCA work with volunteering at a local hospice and mentoring school children, said: “I was looking to do some volunteering work when I retired from my job and I started helping out with the Rotary Club in Betley.

“At that time I went to a meeting where the manager at Stapeley Grange, Lee Stewart, was asking for volunteers. I only live five minutes away from the wildlife centre so it seemed a great idea. I was given some options and the driving came up, so I jumped at doing it. In my previous jobs I’d not done much driving, so it’s been a great opportunity to get out and about.

“I thoroughly enjoy it. I go and do the collections to and from the centre and it can be very varied work. I’ve taken seals to the RSPCA wildlife centres at East Winch and West Hatch animal centres in Norfolk and Somerset and I’ve also helped to release seals in North Wales.

“The other week I took four ferrets and a cat to the RSPCA’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital and also brought back to the centre a crow and a pigeon from RSPCA Hollingworth Lake Animal Centre, the new site of RSPCA Rochdale and District Branch.

“I deal with a lot of hedgehogs and pigeons. There is more work involving birds coming in now after its population was, sadly, hit by Avian flu. But there are biosecurity measures in place still to contain the spread of the disease. We adhere to protective handling when we move birds from cages to the transport boxes and, at Stapeley, we place all the birds that we bring, initially, inside a protective tent where the birds are triaged by the experienced team.”

RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre manager Lee Stewart said: “It’s been a tough few years for wildlife rehabilitators, not only with Covid 19, but also Avian flu virus.  We are adjusting and future proofing ourselves for AI, but it is taking time. 

“Our volunteers have historically been amazing and many have been very patient, which we have really appreciated. I will say this again and again but we cannot do what we do without them. Tim and our other volunteer driver colleagues save our officers so much time when it comes to picking up wildlife casualties and transferring and releasing animals.   

“Over the coming weeks we are really keen to recruit more gardening volunteers to help with our current wildlife garden and conservation area - a field that we have let rewild during Covid times.

“We also have a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) garden arriving in June which we are all really excited about.”

For more information on how to help out Stapeley please email:

The RSPCA is urging animal lovers to sign up to become Wildlife Friends as part of the charity’s involvement in the King’s coronation community volunteering Big Help Out initiative on May 8 .

People can volunteer to be a Wildlife Friend online. Then they can offer to complete some simple tasks to help wildlife on their doorstep, either on their own, as part of their family or group of friends, or even the wider community.