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Swan Lady's devotion memorialised

Published December 21, 2018 2.43pm

A County Durham woman who dedicated her to life to helping swans in her local park has been honoured for devotion.

Swan Lady's bench

The bench in Riverside Park

A bench has been installed in memorial of Linda Charlton, who was known locally as the 'Swan Lady', who passed away earlier this year.

To recognise Linda's long-standing work and commitment to caring for the swans in Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, a memorial bench has now been installed close to her favourite spot, where she spent many hours feeding the water birds.

Linda, who was originally from Berwick, became devoted to swans after the tragic death of her 21 year-old son.

She was often known to wade into the waters and take injured birds back to her home on Ripon Street, where she lived for over 35 years. She would tend to them in her yard before releasing them back into the park once they had made a full recovery.

The RSPCA has also recognised Linda on its 2018 honours list for her outstanding contribution and her tireless service to wildlife.

'We have all lost a good friend'

Terry Haley, RSPCA animal collection officer, said: "I nominated Linda for an RSPCA Honours Award which she was given for her outstanding contribution to animal welfare in particular her work with swans.

"We at the RSPCA are indebted to Linda for the knowledge and expertise that she passed on to me and my colleagues. She was the go to lady for us and everyone else in the area, she really was the 'swan lady'.

"Two years ago we had 60-odd swans deliberately poisoned and she was there every day and night helping to rescue them. Even when she was ill she continued.

"She was very, very well thought of - about a dozen RSPCA officers attended her funeral service. She was funny, feisty, single-minded and a lovely person who we had more than a professional relationship with, we have all lost a good friend."

Selfless dedication 

Derek Snaith, Chester-le-Street Area Action Partnership's principal community development officer, said: "Linda has made a lasting impression on many people here in Chester-le-Street. For over 25 years she selflessly dedicated her life to helping not just the region's swans, but the entire country's through her campaigning."

The bench was funded through neighbourhood budget contributions from the Leader of Durham County Council and ward member Cllr Simon Henig, Cllr Beaty Bainbridge, Cllr Alan Bainbridge, Cllr Paul Sexton, Cllr Linda Marshall, Cllr Alan Bell and Cllr Audrey Wills.

Linda's friends Vanessa, Mary, Joan, Chris, Carol, Karen and Jay are carrying on her work and looking after the swans in Riverside Park to ensure her legacy continues.

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