ROGER Musselle has helped tens of thousands of animals over the years but now he could do with some support himself.

Roger’s Wildlife Rescue in Woodingdean, Brighton, is at “saturation point” as the herring nesting season and the worst outbreak of botulism in recent memory mean the sanctuary is close to running out of space and resources.

Despite being 73, Roger helps more than 1,500 animals annually from their Woodingdean home and he has not had a holiday since 1964.

He is assisted by his wife Fleur and an army of volunteers. Tending to injured gulls, rearing hedgehogs through hibernation, or giving advice over the phone – it’s all in a day’s work for Sussex’s own Doctor Dolittle.

Life at the rescue centre is hectic at the best of times, but now the phone “never stops ringing” and Roger is now receiving more than 200 calls a day. He said: “We’ve got to saturation point now so please forgive us if we don’t answer your call.

“We do our best and that’s all we can do. I’ve never known a season like this.”

The Argus visited the sanctuary to see the problem first hand and to ask what people can do to help Roger in his mission.

When we were welcomed into his home with his trademark hospitality, it was clear the wildlife centre is full to bursting as hundreds of injured seagulls – young and old – fill six of Roger’s sheds.

He said: “Me and my wife start work about 7am and end about 11pm cleaning the pens and feeding the the birds. My wife cuts up 18 bowls of food for them three times a day.

“We’ve worked out every one of the gulls will cost us £65 before they are released.”

Roger’s parents moved to Downs Valley Road in Woodingdean in 1949 and although he has moved houses in the years since, he has never left the street. His sanctuary, which has taken over his many sheds, is struggling to cope with the demands of some 300 birds, many needing specialist diets and conditions to help with their recovery.

Around this time of year, many herring gulls are nesting and when the youngsters fall off a roof, it is often difficult to put them back.

This is where Roger steps in. The young herring gulls are either dropped off to Woodingdean by those on the scene or, failing that, rescue centre volunteers go and collect the injured animal.

Once in Roger’s capable hands the gulls are raised in pens while he tends to their injuries and provides them with food.

Roger explains: “Babies fall off the roofs in extreme weather conditions. At the moment we’re getting a heatwave and they fall off the roofs while trying to find somewhere shady.”

As well as caring for the youngsters, Roger also reports that an “unprecedented” number of adults have been brought to him with botulism.

Avian botulism is a paralytic disease which is caused by the ingestion of a toxin produced by bacteria and is estimated to kill an estimated 10,000 to 100,000 birds annually.

Roger said: “People find them laying down on the seafront, on streets, or even on rooftops, they’ve become paralysed by botulism. They will eventually die if they don’t get treatment.”

Birds brought in with the disease require a tailored diet to get them fit enough to be released, but despite his best efforts, not all the gulls will make it. Despite the extraordinary number of birds taken to the rescue centre this year, Roger has managed to save the vast majority of the injured wildlife that as been brought in.

Of the 180 birds that have already gone through his care this year, only 17 have died. Roger said: “People can certainly help us by donating tinned food or sachets of food – preferably jelly foods.”

Along with food, Roger’s Wildlife Rescue is in need of newspapers, wood shavings, and of course, money – The Argus will be donating old copies of our paper to help the cause.

Those looking to help Roger out can also join his Roger’s World Club in which subscribers pay a monthly fee to receive ongoing radio shows about on new and previous rescues and a general wildlife chat.

A Just Giving Crowdfunder set up in his name earlier this month has already exceed exceeded its £250 goal.

See the extent of Roger’s work in our video at