Quoin Island Volunteer Shay Thetford with daughter Amarni, 7, holding a turtle they're about to weigh.
Quoin Island Volunteer Shay Thetford with daughter Amarni, 7, holding a turtle they're about to weigh.

Mum’s passion for volunteering passed down to her kids

"I DO IT because I want better for my children."

De-boning squid for hours on end, scrubbing out pools and feeding medication may not be glamorous work, but doing it on an island full of turtles definitely makes it easier.

Mum of five, Shay Thetford, has been volunteering at the Quoin Island Rehabilitation Centre since August 2018.

It was after a trip to the island with a tourism organisation that solidified her desire to sign up as a volunteer.

"Our family loves animals, we love nature, we're trying to minimise our environmental footprint. This is an extension of that," Mrs Thetford said.

It's a passion that has passed down to her children.

Her daughter Amarni celebrated her seventh birthday by asking for people to donate instead of buying presents.

Quoin Island Volunteer Shay Thetford with daughter Amarni, 7, holding a turtle they're about to weigh.
Quoin Island Volunteer Shay Thetford with daughter Amarni, 7, holding a turtle they're about to weigh.

A typical day on the island starts at the jetty talking about new turtle arrivals, followed by de-boning squid, cleaning the pools and tanks, cleaning the turtles and feeding them medication.

Although all the turtles through the centre make an impact, a few have had a closer connection.

"There was one really big one called Denise and she'd lost a flipper," she said.

Amarni Thetford, 7, at Quoin Island.
Amarni Thetford, 7, at Quoin Island.

"She's either almost getting released or just been released. She's been there for a long time so I saw what she came in like. It's the ones you think are not going to make it that you see progress each week or each month. They inspire you, they're amazing how they heal themselves. It's the ones that are not looking like they're going to make it to coming out the other end and being released, they're the ones I'm just in awe of."

She said the toughest part of the job was seeing the impact humans had on marine life.

"When you see the injuries they get, knowing all people had to do is slow down. It's a little disheartening sometimes knowing it's preventable.

"But at the end of the day you get to see some go back and it's really worth it."

Her message to anyone considering volunteering is "just do it".

"Sign up and volunteer because you won't regret it."



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