History of the Hawk Conservancy Trust
The Hawk Conservancy Trust began life as the Weyhill Wildlife Park in 1965, and was founded by Reg and Hilary Smith. The couple had farmed the land since 1952. However, after appearing on BBC Television’s Blue Peter, they were visited by hundreds of people wanting tosee their animals, so they decided to open a zoo!
The Weyhill Wildlife Park specialised in European species of wildlife, such as wolves, bears and birds of prey. It wasn’t long before people also began bringing injured mammals and birds of prey to Reg and Hilary for treatment and care. The couple always believed in returning the mammals and birds back to the wild where possible.
In 1980 Reg and Hilary decided to specialise in birds of prey and, with the help of their son Ashley, the Hawk Conservancy was created. The Hawk Conservancy quickly developed an excellent reputation for conservation and rehabilitation.
Sadly, Reg died in 1995. However, seven acres of land were purchased and, in his memory, Reg’s Meadow, a beautiful wildflower meadow, was established. The wildflower meadow is home to many species of butterfly, bee and moth, and remains an important safe haven for insects and small mammals.
Their work with injured raptors resulted in the establishment of a purpose built hospital, where approximately 200 birds of prey are treated each year. In recognition of the care and dedication given to wildlife over nearly 40 years, the hospital was named after Hilary. This was a fitting tribute to one of the founders of the Hawk Conservancy, and now provides a wonderful memorial to her after her sad death in 2006.
In 2004 the Hawk Conservancy became a registered charity and became the Hawk Conservancy Trust. Ashley Smith was appointed as Chief Executive Officer.