WHILE studying to be a nurse, April Sorley got a dog – and it was to be a life-changing decision.

“Alfie was a dream dog,” she smiles. “And when he fell ill and I had to care for him, it made me realise what I really wanted to do with my life.”

Glasgow Times:

April, from Rutherglen, finished her course, switched to the Scottish Rural College to train in animal care instead, and started volunteering with the Scottish SPCA.

“A job opportunity came up when I was volunteering, to work at a rehoming centre, and I got it – and that was where it all began.”

April is now assistant manager at the charity’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire.

The 32-year-old and her colleagues, who care for sick, injured and orphaned animals until they are ready to be released back in to the wild, are starring in a new series of the BBC Scotland hit show Born to be Wild.

Glasgow Times:

It is a fascinating insight into the world of wildlife rescue. In the first episode, April and the team are anxiously awaiting the influx of orphans that accompanies the arrival of March each year.

She becomes ‘mum’ to a herd of tiny fawns, while frontline rescue officer Bob has to rescue a bat from a light fitting, and the team come up with a Star Wars theme in naming the orphaned fix cubs (Solo, Padme, and more….)

“We always have a different theme,” she smiles. “It’s rappers this year – LL Cool J, Eminen.I love my job, as every single day is different, you never quite know what’s going to happen next.”

It might not have happened for April, had it not been for her beloved Alfie.

“I was studying healthcare because my grandad had been very ill with dementia,” she explains. “I was working part-time in a care home, but I found it very difficult after my grandad died. It’s a terrible illness. Some nights it was just too heart-breaking.

“In 2010, I got a rescue dog, an English bull terrier who sadly became terminally ill. He had a lot of health problems, including epilepsy and diabetes.

“I looked after him, 24/7 – he was a dream dog. I’d never owned a dog before – my brother and I had the usual selection of hamsters and goldfish, but Alfie was my first dog, and I loved him so much.”

Caring for Alfie made April realise she wanted to work with animals, and she completed her HNC and HND while volunteering. After three years at the rehoming centre, she moved to Fishcross in 2016.

“The kinds of animals we deal with range from otters, badgers and foxes to deer, beavers, seals, pine martens…it’s always exciting,” she says.

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“Quite often, we hand rear animals, which is very special. The hardest part is taking an animal to a release site, and letting it go.”

April adds: “Everything we do at the centre is aimed at getting these animals back into the wild and free again, but it’s tinged with sadness, definitely, when that day comes.

“There are almost always tears.”

Born to Be Wild starts on BBC Scotland on July 19 at 8pm.