Seal-saving, scuba-diving grandmother honoured for volunteer work
PUBLISHED: 18:56 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:56 17 October 2019
A grandmother from Ipswich has collected an award for her incredible work saving seals along the Suffolk coast.
Jo Collins, 56, first waded into the water after enrolling on a scuba diving course for her 40th birthday.
Spurred on by friends and family, she decided to join the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), taking on their medic training course and, after getting her diving certificate, has been a dedicated member of their team.
Joining in 2013, Mrs Collins has put in six years of dedicated service, giving up her time for the mammals of East Anglia.
Mrs Collins said: "I've always been passionate about caring for animals, so to be able to help rescue and release these sick and injured seals back into the wild, makes all the late nights and long hours worthwhile.
"Each year we see more and more seals in need of our help. Many have been injured or trapped in pieces of plastic.
"We are hoping that our work in the local community will continue to shine a light on the dangers of plastic pollution in our seas.
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"It's such an honour to win this award, and I'm so proud to be representing the important work BDMLR do and the many amazing volunteers I work alongside."
Collecting her award in London on October 15, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recognised her with their Marine Rescue Award for "unwavering passion and enthusiasm" for her role as a volunteer for the BDMLR, working around the clock to ensure that sick and injured seals get the help they need, often collecting stranded seals herself and transporting them to release centres across the region.
Alongside two jobs and looking after her two rescue dogs, Mrs Collins also runs marine mammal medic courses for the organisation.
She trains up to 150 new medics every year, arranging venues, instructors and practical training equipment.
She also raises funds for BDMLR, organising awareness campaigns and promoting volunteering events, such as beach cleans, for the local community.
James Sawyer, UK director of IFAW, said: "Jo's many hours of volunteering for BDMLR is incredibly admirable.
"Her passion for saving vulnerable marine life, as well as contributing to the organisation through vital fundraising and awareness campaigns, makes her an invaluable member of this fantastic organisation.
"We are so pleased to award Jo with IFAW's Marine Rescue Award."