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This cute, heroic gay guy just won an award for saving swans – his story will warm your heart

This cute, heroic gay guy just won an award for saving swans – his story will warm your heart

Dan Sidley from York has won an Animal Action Award

It was an afternoon of inspiring stories for Gay Star News today, as we attended the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) annual Animal Action Awards.

And one handsome animal lover caught our eye specifically…

Blond-haired Dan Sidley from York, who set up the amazing Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital at Barlow Nature Reserve near Selby, was given the Swan Rescue Award.

The 29-year-old first started volunteering to help the beautiful birds ten years ago, and now dedicates his whole life to animal rescue.

Accompanied by friends, family and proud husband Luke Marriott, Dan spoke to Gay Star News after his epic award win to talk 24-hour animal care, finally taking a honeymoon and saving hedgehogs in head-to-toe Vivienne Westwood…

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Congratulations on your award! How does it feel?
Dan: It’s overwhelming! I didn’t expect it. But it’s lovely to spend time here, with like-minded people.

Who nominated you?
Dan: I believe several people, but I don’t know who they are, where they’re from or what they’ve said!
Luke: It wasn’t me!

So you have no idea?
Dan: No. We have lots of supporters of the charity, so it could be any number of people. I may find out after today!

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Dan Sidley [right] and his husband Luke Marriott

When did you find out you’d won?
Last month. I received a letter from [ceremony hostess Anita Gale, Baroness Gale] the Baroness, which was amazing. I was shocked!

Could you sum up that it is you do with your organization?
Dan: It’s a charity that rescues many swans and other wildlife. We’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The animals come to us with varying injuries, from fishing line problems to people being deliberately cruel, to flying into overhead wires, landing on roads, that kind of thing. We’re dealing with about 4,000 animals a year.

Is that your full time job?
Dan: Yes, and I’m supported by my husband.

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What’s your job, Luke?
Luke: I’m an operations manager for a coffee chain. Completely different to what Dan does, but I help him out. It’s our every day life. I’ll come home and there’s all sorts of animals in the kitchen. A swan on a drip or an owl on the kitchen side… But it’s amazing being so close to wildlife.

Is it emotionally strenuous work?
Dan: It can be. It can be really demanding. We got married last fall and we’ve not had a honeymoon because our work is so demanding, mine especially. We haven’t been on a proper holiday for years!

Do you fancy a safari for your honeymoon? Or bird-watching?
Dan: We have something planned soon, with a group of our friends. I’m turning 30, so it’s a birthday celebration/honeymoon…
Luke: To Disney!
Dan: [Laughs] It’s to Walt Disney World in Florida.

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[Left to right] Bill Oddie, IFAW UK Director Philip Mansbridge, Dan Sidley and Baroness Gale

How does it feel to see your husband win this award, Luke?
Luke: It makes me extremely proud. I know how hard he works. He gets calls at 11, 12 at night and he’s straight out. He never refuses any animal care. It’s hard work, but we make it work together.
Dan: He’s playing down his role. He often comes with me and helps. He’s a volunteer.
Luke: When you’re on your way to a dinner party…
Dan: Dressed in Vivienne Westwood!
Luke: …and then you find yourself in a river saving hedgehogs!

Oh no! How did you guys meet?
Luke: On the scene in York. I sent him a message saying how nice it was to see someone who cared so much about wildlife. It shows he’s a caring person. We have a good life together.

Where does your passion for animals come from?
Dan: From a very young age, mainly because I grew up around them. My grandmother was quite influential because she always had lots of animals at home. She encouraged me to begin volunteering at a swan rescue center in the Cotswolds, which lead on to me setting up this charity. Having an animal in, looking after it, then eventually releasing it back into the wild after many weeks of treatment  – that’s a privilege.

For more information about IFAW, visit the official website by clicking here