Seagulls make presence known at hospice

FOR the staff at St Helena Hospice, caring for ill patients is in their nature. But it seems that the latest arrivals have brought out the anger in some of the workers.

James Hore

FOR the staff at St Helena Hospice, caring for ill patients is in their nature.

But it seems that the latest arrivals have brought out the anger in some of the workers.

For the second year running a family of seagulls has decided to make the hospice's day centre at Clacton its home, building a nest in an air vent to the kitchen.

But the feathered friends have been making their presence known - tapping on the windows of the building and driving some of the staff and patients to distraction.

Opinions are split on the birds, with many of those who live on the coast regarding them as pests while patients from further inland tend to see them as something of a novelty attraction.

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Last year one of the chicks developed a “maddening habit” of tap, tap, tapping on the windows when it saw people inside.

The family is back again this year, and once again it has been letting everyone know about it.

Saul Ridley, day services director at the hospice, said had experienced the birds knocking at the most unfortunate of times.

He said: “It became a bit of a comedy of errors - it has been quite entertaining, but they are a bloody menace in my opinion, but it has been the subject of much discussion.

“Last year one of the young ones would peck and whack at the door, but when you are talking about seagulls, it is more like a pneumatic drill.

“I could be talking about anything with a patient, their diagnosis and it could all be very emotional and then all of a sudden this seagull would start banging away.

“It was a case of trying really hard to ignore it, but then for some of the patients, it made a welcome moment of humour at the worst possible time.”

Mr Ridley admitted he had mixed feelings about what should happen to the birds.

“I am into karma and 'live and let live', but then again I was brought up for years on a farm, so my instinct is to get rid of the problem.

“Talk to some patients and they will tell you they are lovely, while others will say they are 'rats with wings'.”

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