Bev Cossé: Powerhouse behind the Seal and Bird Rescue Trust in north Norfolk

Bev Cosse with an eagle owl at the Sea and Bird Rescue Trust where she as chairman. Picture: JAMES B

Bev Cosse with an eagle owl at the Sea and Bird Rescue Trust where she as chairman. Picture: JAMES BASS - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

Tributes have been paid to Bev Cossé, the driving force behind an animal rescue centre in north Norfolk.

Mrs Cossé was the powerhouse hands-on chairman of the Seal and Bird Rescue Trust at Ridlington near North Walsham.

She died, aged 73, on December 10 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after a short illness.

A mark of her dedication to animals was highlighted three years ago when to help two recovering young swifts on their journey back to health and their migration destination, she did a 250-mile round trip in her car to release them across the Channel in Calais.

Her love of animals went back to childhood in her native Australia where she would turn up at the family's Melbourne home with neighbours' puppies or kittens, convinced she knew how to look after them better.

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She left Australia and began travelling the world when she married French trade commissioner Jean-Paul Cossé in 1968.

During postings, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Libya, Egypt, Dubai, and Iraq, she immersed herself in local life, including learning about birds of prey and other wildlife while in Zimbabwe.

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The couple decided to educate their son in England and bought a home in Baconsthorpe near Holt about 40 years ago.

Mrs Cossé began fund raising for the Ridlington charity 20 years ago and later became its chairman. Under her watch, and active fund-raising, its financial fortunes and facilities improved.

But as well as transforming the lives of the animals, she also changed the lives of some of the helpers - such as children with behavioural problems.

Acting chairman of the trust Dan Goldsmith said: 'Bev was an inspiration to all who she met.

'Her dedication to the wildlife and our centre was beyond measure, as she was always the first to get in and the last to go out. Her life with the animals never included a day off, sometimes leaving late hours in the night to rescue a seal on the beach and travelling miles to get them safely to a place of recovery.'

But she would also be remembered for how many lives she touched - helping volunteers deal with life challenges, such as low self-esteem or bullying, and encouraging each one to pursue their dreams, he added.

Mr Goldsmith added that the trust aimed to fulfil her wish to have a flight aviary at the centre for rehabilitated birds to exercise in.

Husband Jean-Paul said the episode with the swifts, and the fact she wanted to be out with the team rescuing more than 60 seals during the recent storm surge, when she was in hospital, demonstrated her passion for helping animals.

Mrs Cossé was also chairman of the parish council at Baconsthorpe. She also leaves a son, Philippe, who lives in Dubai, and two grandchildren.

A funeral is being held at Earlham Crematorium on Monday December 23 at 3pm. Donations in lieu of flowers are being made to the rescue centre.

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