Wildlife Rescue Trust
Caring for Scotland's injured and orphaned wildlife  


Contact/further information

Contact via email is preferred as the telephone is in constant use by members of the public notifying the centre of casualties needing attention. Email also enables enquiries to be dealt with during quieter periods, giving us more opportunity to answer any questions you may have and forward relevant information regarding volunteer work at Hessilhead. Please be patient as the centre is open 24 hours a day and whilst we try to deal with emails on a daily basis it is not always possible during busy periods.


Hessilhead is situated on the outskirts of Gateside village which is about a 20 minute walk or 10 minutes by bike ride from the centre. The nearest town is Beith about a 45 minute walk or 25 minutes by bike (available from the centre).

More maps and directions can be found on the contact page and at bing maps and google maps. (Hessilhead's postcode is KA15 1HT.)

Contact whilst at the centre

In emergency situations calls can be received or made from the centre, but in all other cases there is a telephone available for use at the Gateside Inn or at a public telephone box in Beith, and internet access is available from Beith library (see Local Shops/Restaurants).

Local shops/restaurants


  • Gateside Inn (pub) - serves lunch and evening meals


  • Co-op (small supermarket)
  • Post office
  • Chemist
  • Bakery
  • Bank of Scotland
  • Florist
  • Pubs � several
  • Library (with internet facilities)- Obtain a letter confirming your stay at the centre prior to visiting the library.
  • Takeaway restaurants (fish and chips, Chinese, kebabs, pizza and curry)


  • Tesco (large supermarket)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Takeaway restaurants (fish and chips, Chinese, kebabs, pizza and curry)


    When travelling to the centre we can arrange for someone to collect you from the airport or nearest train stations, as long as we have plenty of notice. Likewise, on departure, we will endeavour to arrange a lift to take you back. On collection, if required, we will take you to a supermarket for supplies, as long as you arrive before the shops close, so should you be arriving late at night please bring food for the evening of arrival and following day.

    No public transport passes Hessilhead and once at the centre walking or cycling (bikes available at the centre) are the only means of transport unless you wish to hire a taxi. Often there are volunteers who own a car and may not mind giving lifts to the supermarket etc., but this is on a favour basis so please do not assume. Transport to a larger supermarket for supplies can be organised, but this will be at a time and day to suit the centre.

    We have provided brief travel information that we hope will be helpful but for up-to-date transport information/schedules visit travelinescotland.com.


    All long distance trains and coaches take you to the centre of Glasgow, about 20 miles from Hessilhead. You can then take a train from Central Station in Glasgow to the nearest stations to the centre, Glengarnock or Lochwinnoch.


    Glasgow airport (glasgowairport.com) is just outside the city centre, but there is a shuttle bus to the city, where you can pick up a train or bus connection to the centre (see Train/Coach).

    Glasgow Prestwick Airport (gpia.co.uk) has its own railway station. The Glasgow bound train will stop at Glengarnock or Lochwinnoch, and someone will collect you there.


    A bus is available from Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow to Beith


    All buildings at the centre are no-smoking zones and, on arrival, please familiarise yourself with fire fighting equipment situated in sleeping and communal areas.

    Wooden cabins (sleeping two people) are available and during the busy season, unless you are planning to share with a friend, it may be necessary for you to share with another volunteer. Pillows and extra blankets are available but a sleeping bag/duvet, sheets and towels should be brought with you.

    There is a large communal cabin with a kitchen equipped with everything you will need, toilet and dining/common room. There is a shower in the main house (available between 8am and 8pm) and washing machine/tumble drier (for use after 6pm).

    Volunteers are responsible for keeping cabins and communal areas clean/tidy and are asked to be considerate to other volunteers by co-ordinating the use of communal facilities such as the shower and kitchen. On departure, cabins and communal areas should be cleared of personal belongings (including food and toiletries) and cleaned, leaving them as you would wish to find them.



    Scotland is renowned for being cold and wet, even during the summer months, so be prepared for bad and good weather. Visit bbc.co.uk/weather for a five-day forecast of the Beith area.


    Work at the centre, whilst varied, is consistent in that you will get dirty, so please ensure that you bring clothing that you do not mind getting soiled. As already stated, the weather in Scotland is renowned for rain, so waterproof clothing and foot wear is imperative, as are warm jumpers/sweatshirts. See

    Click on the button above to go to the Charity Choice website.
    Enter �20 in the `Other' field on the Charity Choice website.
    Confirm your payment by completing all fields required by the Charity Choice website.
    Email us at info@hessilhead.org.uk to confirm the details of your payment.

    Pay your deposit by cheque, bankers draft or postal order

    Please send your cheque, bankers draft or postal order, payable to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue, to us at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust, Gateside, Beith, KA15 1HT, Scotland.

    Pay your deposit by direct payment

    Direct payments can be made through online banking using the following details.
    Account name: Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust
    Bank name and address: Royal Bank of Scotland, The Cross, Lochwinnoch, PA12 4DB
    Sort code:83-23-19
    Account No: 00166796
    After making your payment, please email us at info@hessilhead.org.uk to confirm the details of your payment.

    Pay your deposit in person at the centre

    Please call in at reception at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust, Gateside, Beith, KA15 1HT, Scotland, to make your payment (see the contact us page for directions.

    Utilities charges can be paid by cheque or cash on arrival.


    It is advisable that you ensure your Tetanus inoculations are up-to-date and any allergies are notified to the centre in advance so that we can assess your suitability for working at Hessilhead.

    Working at Hessilhead

    Work at the centre is very varied, due to the variety/number of animals admitted into care, but cleaning and feeding duties are the main daily priorities and everyone, irrespective of experience or background, shares responsibility for ensuring patients at the centre are cleaned and fed before any other duties can be undertaken. Whilst working at the centre you will be in contact with members of the public, both in person and on the telephone, so please conduct yourself in a mature manner and remember that you are representing the centre.


    Although the centre employs 4 members of staff, there is a heavy dependency on volunteers, both residential and those who live locally, so please try to ensure that you can keep to the dates agreed as a shortage of volunteers impacts greatly on both the animals and people at the centre.


    Work at the centre starts at 9am until 6pm with a break mid-morning and afternoon plus an hour for lunch. It is normal to work a 6 day week, especially during busy periods, and hours of work may also vary as young birds/animals often need to be fed in the evenings and animals do not wait for normal business hours to be rescued! Hours of work will be discussed and agreed with you. Flexibility is appreciated.


    The hospital acts as the reception centre for people bringing in casualties and most of the animals spend a period of time in the hospital, whether briefly for observation or for longer periods of convalescence. Cleaning and feeding duties start at 9am and must be completed before lunchtime, irrespective of the number of patients, leaving the afternoon free for medical rounds, health checks, training and admittance of new patients. Another feeding round and paper/bedding change is done at 4pm, ensuring patients are comfortable for the night. Staff aim to include volunteers as much as possible in all aspects of the day-to-day hospital activities, but will only do so as long as both the patients' and volunteers' welfare is not compromised. Please bear in mind that when working with wildlife, handling and contact is kept to a minimum to prevent undue stress and retain the natural fear of humans.

    External enclosures

    Animals in the external enclosures are either in the final stages of recovery after injury or illness, undergoing a period of observation to enable release or maybe one of the few permanent residents at the centre. Once again cleaning and feeding duties start at 9am and feeding must be completed by lunchtime, even if there are enclosures still requiring cleaning. Another feeding round is done at about 5pm and enclosures, as directed, shut for the night. Afternoon duties vary and may involve, for example, helping with a rescue, moving/releasing animals or maintenance work.


    The centre is open 24 hours a day every day of the week and the telephone is constantly ringing with queries from the public, notification of animals in distress or being bought in. You will be provided with guidance on how to deal with telephone calls, but it is imperative to adopt a professional, calm manner at all times and take clear and accurate messages.


    Periodically small maintenance jobs need to be undertaken such as painting, ensuring enclosures are secure or tidying/reorganising storage. There are a number of local volunteers who have carpentry or building skills, but additional hands or skills are always welcome, as is a willingness to help.


    The number of rescues performed by staff/volunteers varies greatly with a week or two going by without any and then three or four happening in one day. If you are asked to attend a rescue, it is imperative that you pay attention to instructions by staff and act in a responsible and mature manner; your safety and others may be compromised by your actions and affect the success of the rescue.


    As Hessilhead is funded by donations only, fundraising is an extremely important activity and should you volunteer over the second weekend in June, you will take part in the Open Day: the only day in the year that the centre is open to the public. This is an extremely busy time for staff and volunteers with a tremendous amount of preparation and work both before and on the day itself. Should you be particularly interested in helping with fundraising activities or have any ideas please email us at info@hessilhead.org.uk.


    No photos nor videos maybe taken at Hessilhead without permission from Andy, Gay or a member of staff, and none may be circulated via the internet without written permission.


    Scotland is beautiful and whether walking, climbing, shopping or eating is your thing, then there are plenty of places to visit and staff/local volunteers are only too happy to point you in the right direction to find out further information.

    And finally...

    Hessilhead staff and volunteers operate as a team and whilst it is hard work, and sometimes long hours, the work is rewarding and, if you have the right attitude, the opportunity to gain experience of working with an extremely wide range of wildlife is unique. If there is a specific species or area of work you are interested in please let us know prior to booking rather than being disappointed during your stay. Please also ensure that, before committing to a period of volunteer work, you can commit to your dates and have thoroughly read the information we have sent you.


    Prior to booking

  • Read volunteer notes
  • Questions been answered
  • Checked availability of dates with Hessilhead & can commit to duration of stay
  • Checked you are eligible to work under VISA regulations and within timescale

    Key things to note

  • You must be prepared for cleaning duties regardless of experience you require
  • You must be prepared to share communal facilities considerately
  • Scotland is renowned for being cold and wet even in summer months


  • Completed & sent booking form
  • Sent �20 deposit to secure booking
  • Notified Hessilhead of arrival details (if requiring collection)

    Essential items to pack

  • Waterproofs
  • Wellington boots
  • Trainers (working in the hospital)
  • Warm clothing (jumpers/sweatshirts/fleeces)
  • Sleeping bag/bedding
  • Clothing that can be got dirty
  • Alarm clock
  • Towels
  • Washing powder

    Suggested items

  • Walkman/MP3 player (not for use whilst working)
  • Books
  • Strong boots