THE founder of an animal rescue centre has launched an emergency appeal after concerns a village’s swans are “in jeopardy”.

It comes after volunteer group Swanwatch, which has monitored and fed the birds which live in and around the River Stour for 30 years, announced it will be folding.

The news has caused grave concern for Gill Lewis, who founded Mistley-based animal rescue centre WeCare, about how the swans will cope over winter.

She said it is “certainly not the case” that WeCare will be taking on what is a “valuable, but resource-heavy, role” in the absence of Swanwatch.

“For the past three years we have been assisting Swanwatch in rescuing sick and injured birds needing attention,” she said.

“Last year, after receiving several swans in the run-up to winter that were severely malnourished and unable even to clean themselves, we took the decision to raise funds through an emergency appeal.

“Using this, we purchased highly-nutritional marine duck pellets with which to complement the day-feed being provided by Swanwatch with an evening feed for the flock throughout the remaining winter months.”

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: The swans in MistleyThe swans in Mistley

As a result of this, Mrs Lewis said the health of the flock has improved and this year WeCare had not had a single sick swan to look after.

However, she fears the surprise announcement by Swanwatch now puts the health of the flock in jeopardy.

“Obviously we are very sad to hear the news that Swanwatch has decided to stand down. They did an amazing and valuable job for the swans,” Mrs Lewis added.

“The problem is the flock is semi-tame, meaning the swans are dependent on supplementary feeding by humans.

“Without the feed provided by them, we are concerned that, once again, the swans will become malnourished during the winter, when naturally food sources are diminished.

“Hence, we are making another emergency appeal to raise funds to provide food throughout the coming months.”

Providing one bag of feed per night from December to March last winter cost £3,000.

“Last year it cost £3,000 to provide one bag of feed per night from December through to March. This year it is likely to cost more, given supply issues and the fact we will need to start earlier.”

WeCare is asking for both donations from individuals and sponsorship from businesses.

Donations should be marked ‘WeCare Winter Swan Feed’ and made through the PayPal account