Friend of the feathered recognised
“Ella Grant has recently retired from her position as manager of the Bird Rescue Cheep Shop after 12 years, but she has been active in the Bird Rescue for many years prior to managing the shop. “From rescuing and caring for birds in the early years of the group to using her skills as a graphic artist for newsletters, logo design and publicity material, Ella has always been there for us. She is still involved with taking in birds temporarily until we can get them out to Turakina and for any graphic work that we need doing.” So says Dawne Morton, centre manager of Bird Rescue Whanganui Manawatu, in her nomination of Ella for volunteer of the month. “Ella is also a trustee of the Bird Rescue Whanganui/Manawatu Trust. Ella has been and still is an important part of the Bird Rescue and one of the reasons we have been able to continue operating for so long. We would like to nominate Ella for the volunteer of the month award in recognition of all the years of voluntary service and dedication she has shown.” The nomination was successful and Ella was presented with a certificate, a volunteer lapel badge and a $40 voucher from Mud Ducks Cafe in recognition. Ella’s last day at the Cheep Shop, on Saturday, August 14, was marked with a giant thank you and farewell sale at its premises at 62B Taupo Quay. “On the last day we made more than twice as much money than on any previous Saturday in the last year,” says Ella. “People came in large numbers, and it was lovely.” She says people arrived with flowers and gifts. Ella puts it down to the publicity received in a Midweek story by Jacob McSweeney. Her volunteering with birds goes back a way and she says she blames it on her husband, Peter. “Peter’s always been very keen on birds, especially native birds. When I first came to Whanganui I worked for Tearaway magazine. Dawne, at the time, was working in the same row of buildings, and there was a lunch bar that put all of Dawne’s newspaper clippings up on their wall, because Dawne was just next door. They were very proud of Dawne and that’s where I read about her. So I recognised her face when she happened to come in to the shop at the same time as me, and we got to talking. “My claim to fame, in terms of bird rescue, is we worked out how to get kingfishers to survive being injured and rescued. It used to be a problem in that they all [previously] died. What you had to do was keep them in the dark and force feed them for four or five days.” After that they could feed themselves and get themselves fit enough to return to the wild. Peter and Ella have been in Whanganui since 1991. Peter worked for the Native Forest Action Council Maruia Society for 15 years. Ella also worked for them. “That was semi-voluntary work,” she says. “When [Peter] approached 50 . . . he went back to his early training as a vet, and after six weeks’ training as a meat vet we came here to Whanganui.” Working for the Government, he was assigned to Imlay Freezing Works. “When I came to Whanganui I had time on my hands so I organised a couple of garage sales for Bird Rescue. One we had in the old fire station and the next one was in a building that belonged to Bobbi Mitchell-Anyon, down on the riverbank.” Ella was unable to help move the rest of the sale items the following weekend, so two volunteers stepped up, Steve and Lonia, and they helped out every Saturday for more than two years. “By that stage, I was selfemployed, doing freelance graphic design and translation, so I said I’d take over, and Ross [Mitchell-Anyon] said we could have the place we’re in now.” Ross and the volunteers prepared the premises while they operated out of an adjoining area for six months, also in one of Ross’ buildings. When all was ready, they moved three doors down to the current premises in 2009. “In the beginning we only had Saturdays. Those first Saturdays made more money than a five-day week six or seven years later.” Ella remains on the Bird Rescue Trust Board and she and Peter help as a “depot” for injured birds before they are transferred to Dawne’s Turakina Bird Rescue premises.