A BIRD sanctuary that needed to raise £170,000 to survive said it is delighted to have reached its target but “can’t celebrate just yet”.

Bird Aid, near Hailsham, undertook a huge fundraising effort after one of its trustees, who invested into the top-of-the-range rescue centre, decided they wanted to withdraw.

The decision left Bird Aid in a perilous situation, with the centre still needing to raise £130,000 in three months, when The Argus first reported on their situation.

Since then, a team of volunteers has been raising awareness which has seen plenty of people get involved such as naturalist Chris Packham, footballer George Best's former wife Angie Best, celebrity vet Marc Abraham and Brighton and Hove Albion.

In total, 4,388 people donated to the sanctuary, which included fundraising efforts such as head shaves to charity art auctions.

Julia Gould, owner of Bird Aid, said she was “touched” by the fundraising efforts, but warned there are still legal terms to agree which are holding off celebrations.

The 58-year-old said: “I’m delighted but we will celebrate properly once it’s all legally signed over. We’re just waiting for that to be done.

The Argus: Picture from Claire Andrews of a gull that Bird Aid savedPicture from Claire Andrews of a gull that Bird Aid saved

“I’ll be happier once it’s signed, sealed and delivered. Once we have it officially in Bird Aid’s name, we might have a proper opening.”

She said it was touching that so many people showed their support.

She said: “What was lovely is there were lots of people involved, as opposed to one person giving lots of money.

“It makes it better in a way that many people were involved and they all know that they made a difference.

“Everyone that put the effort in, they have all contributed and been invaluable.

“My phone was going mad towards the end with people messaging to say they have shared it.”

The sanctuary has 16 aviaries and cares for more than 500 birds a year. Herring gulls are on the Birds of Conservation Concern 4 (BoCC 4) red list, while nine other species of gull are on the amber list.

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