Nurse Sue's second high flying career
A Lancashire nurse made a high flying change after taking semi-retirement - by starting a business releasing her doves at weddings, funerals and special events.
Sue Brown has always loved helping people in her role as a mental health nurse.
But now she’s also helping them in a different but equally rewarding way.
Sue from Whittingham, near Preston, worked for more than three decades at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital.
Now she works two days a week at Lancaster Royal Infirmary and runs her own business called Doves of Life.
Her business card carries the sub-title ‘The Birds of Purity and Peace’.
Sue takes bookings for weddings, funerals, Remembrance and special events and the release of her birds is the climax of many events.
The mother of two was, she says, driven by a long term desire to run her own business and a love of the birds: “I did this when I semi-retired. I wanted to do my own business and after 30 odd years of being in nursing I thought this would be fun.”
With numerous weddings and special occasions to celebrate that is certainly the case.
Doves of Life give couples the chance to commemorate their vows in a special and memorable way.
But it is also an occupation which requires reserves of compassion and understanding.
She says funerals are particularly special because of the comfort she can bring to bereaved people at their saddest of times. She releases the doves and, if requested, will read a poem as well.
"Sometimes people choose to hold a single white dove in their hands before releasing it at a wedding or funeral.It’s the very last thing at a funeral....The last thing they see is the dove fly off.
“That was beautiful - I have that said often. It’s such an honour.”
She continued: “I had never realised how rewarding it would be. I find it as rewarding as nursing.”
Another memorable event for Sue was when she released doves at her local festival to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.
It was through her partner Alan that she became interested in the doves: “He raced pigeons and I used to like the white ones.”
There is also the appeal of using her creativity. She said: ”You get to decorate the beautiful cages and baskets.”
With a spacious bird loft the doves come and go throughout the day. Sue said: “I got more used to handling them them when I got my own birds three years ago. "
She bought the business from another expert and he also bred some young birds for her.
Her birds get regular training flights. Sue even takes them to Lancaster releasing them before work for a short flight back home.
Sue has both flying birds and fantail doves - the latter for display at wedddings.
She always wants to smile when, after a release, someone asks: “Do they come back to the basket?”
No, she tells them - they are on the way home - and always get home before her.