Staff and Partnerships


Jan Bevington started the sanctuary in 1987 when a common seal washed up on the beach outside The Booth in Hillswick where she lived and worked. A lover of the environment since she was a young girl, Jan realised she had discovered a wildlife paradise when she arrived in Shetland in the early 1970s. Her love of the islands has never left her.

Pete Bevington felt that he had found home at last when he joined Jan in Hillswick in 1995 to share her love of nature and desire to help the environment. Pete worked as a local journalist until 2016 when he retired to devote himself entirely to the running of the sanctuary.

Ron Patterson  moved to Shetland from the Scottish borders and spent 23 years as the islands’ senior inspector for the Scottish SPCA, running the charity’s former wildlife rescue unit and oiled bird washing facility. Now semi-retired, Ron drives a school mini-bus and lives with his wife Margaret, with whom he has two sons and six grand bairns.

Siân Bryant works for Shetland Vets, having qualified as a registered veterinary nurse in 2014. She has a passion for all animals, but is especially interested in exotic and wildlife species, and currently owns three cats, four ferrets and a royal python. Siân has completed a marine mammal stranding sampling course and is part of the Shetland women’s rugby team.

Alice Bacon first visited Shetland aged eight, when the islands’ rich wildlife and wild coastline made a deep and lasting impression upon her. After qualifying as a vet, Alice has worked in general practice, including a year in Shetland in 2011 when she also volunteered at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary. Passionate about ecological conservation and wildlife health, Alice has an MSc in conservation veterinary medicine.

Sara Sawatzki came to Shetland on a whim to volunteer at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary in 2011 on her first solo trip abroad from the USA where she works as a photographer and activist for social and environmental issues, and raises funds for charities. Sara fell in love with Shetland, so much so that she returned to volunteer in 2014 and has kept in constant touch with the sanctuary ever since.

Katherine Robinson came to Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary nine years ago as a BUNAC volunteer, and she immediately developed a special love for Shetland. Since then, Shetland’s landscape, history, and wildlife have all inspired her fiction and poetry. Her writing has appeared in several journals, and she currently teaches in Baltimore. She will soon begin an English PhD at Cambridge University where she will be writing about mythology, ecology, and poetry.

HWS Partnerships

Our ethos, of working to protect the whole Shetland ecosystem to support its wildlife, can only be achieved by working in partnership with others.

  • Scottish SPCA

    work closely with us rescuing animals and ensuring they are properly cared for, and contributing towards the cost of keeping animals they bring to us. They also run courses at Hillswick which are well attended by the local Shetland Community; giving advice on what to do and how to best help stranded, sick and distressed marine mammals.

  • Shetland Vets

    based in Bixter, provide veterinary advice and medication for the animals that come into our care.

  • Shetland Oil Terminal Environment Advisory Group

    have contributed towards the cost of maintaining and developing the sanctuary facilities. HWS is a founding member of SOTEAG’s Wildlife Response Coordinating Committee, set up to plan the response to a major pollution incident.

  • Shetland Wildlife and Shetland Nature

    tour groups, and the many others who have helped raise funds for the sanctuary.

  • British Divers Marine Life Rescue

    help to coordinate the rescue of stranded cetaceans around Shetland and run workshops for marine mammal medics.

  • Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme

    provide information about the health of Scotland’s marine mammals and run workshops on how to take samples from a dead marine mammal for scientific research.

  • Shetland Islands Council

    has assisted HWS with infrastructure planning developments at the sanctuary.

  • World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

    have helped us source volunteers from around the world to maintain the sanctuary property and its gardens.

  • RSPB volunteers

    have worked with us to maintaining the sanctuary facilities.

  • Scottish Natural Heritage

    provide us with information and advice about the state of the otter and seal populations around Shetland.

  • The Shetland Community

    who report sick, injured and abandoned seals and otters as well as cetaceans to ourselves and the Scottish SPCA.

  • Voluntary Action - Shetland

    This team support and help train all organisations wanting to utilise volunteer ‘know-how and time’ to support their missions. We are grateful for all their information and ongoing advice on best practise, training and legal matters as regards volunteers at the Sanctuary

  • Our supporters

    who visit the sanctuary and donate funds to help us keep going.