Family tribute to 'wonderful' man who dedicated his life to rescuing Surrey's wildlife

Graham Cornick
Graham Cornick loved animals -Credit:Surrey Advertiser

The co-founder of an animal hospital in Surrey has died, aged 80. Graham Cornick and his wife Lyn founded the Hydestile Wildlife Hospital and dedicated much of their lives to rescuing wildlife.

In 2021, the couple from Hydestile, were recognised with a special accolade from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the House of Lords, honouring their work in rescuing and rehabilitating sick, injured or orphaned wildlife.

Graham and Lyn have helped thousands of wild birds and animals in need of care since they took in their first animal, a deer injured in a road accident in 1978 while Lyn worked as a vet nurse. Graham died peacefully at his home surrounded by his close family on Monday, May 13.

In a moving tribute to his father, Graham and Lyn's son Orson Cornick said: "On the night of Monday 13th May, my mum and I sat with my Dad ‘Graham Cornick’ as he passed away overlooking the wildlife hospital he created.

"My mum and I, and many others who knew him are devastated at losing such a wonderful person who came from nothing, to become a pioneer in wildlife rehabilitation whose legacy will be seen for years to come, if not forever. I love him with all my heart and I am just thankful that I knew him, let alone being able to call him my dad.

"He helped countless animals in his lifetime and influenced, supported and taught many people too. I like to think that if there is a heaven, the welcoming committee would have been pretty incredible. I cannot imagine a life without him or a world that doesn’t contain his infectious silliness, warmth and love. I would often say that my Dad would care for any animal without caring whether it was ugly or beautiful, each one got the same treatment and the same love.

"My Dad is the genuine article who never did this for nothing other than the animals… I could talk about him forever and I will spend the rest of my life hearing stories from those that met him. I have lost my Dad, and my Hero… we now have one of the biggest celebrations to organise over the coming weeks.

"Although I have never cried as much in my life, I am happy that he went with Mum and I by his side... and then in the middle of the night when the funeral director came to take Dad away... she said 'I know Graham, he used to come and talk to us when I was in the Brownies... he is a lovely man.' And so, in the end it was the perfect end... with us, overlooking the world he created and taken by those he taught.

"We cannot ask for anything more... We will keep you all updated on the celebrations to come."

Graham Cornick was co-founder of Hydestile Wildlife Hospital, now Hydestile Resident Animals along his with wife Lyn. A heating engineer by trade he has always had a close association with animals. As a six year old he and his brother Barry reared then released an injured thrush that his parents had brought back to Graham's Feltham home.

Graham said at the time: "My most gratifying rescue was the pregnant deer brought in recently with the two unborn fawns. It was touch and go for some time. Graham's favourite animal was a fox called Misty 1984-1996 "I still miss her dreadfully, she was the most amazing creature I've ever come across."

Graham's main aim for Hydestile is to ensure that it keeps saving animals even when he and Lyn are unable to carry on themselves.