Birds give new life to Denbighshire man who lost hand
A man who cut off his hand in an accident has told how his love of birds has helped him turn his life around.
Geoff Leedham, 42, was using a power saw to make a rack for his van at home in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire, when he lost his hand.
The former coach driver said for months he was "very depressed", but found the company of his pet birds a comfort.
Now he runs the Denbighshire Avian Rescue Centre, which he hopes will gain charity status.
End Quote Geoff Leedham Denbighshire Avian Rescue Centre
It's really helped me. Instead of sitting in the garage talking to myself, I talk to the parrots”
Following the accident in his garage a year ago, Mr Leedham underwent surgery to sew the hand back on.
However, the procedure was unsuccessful and he later made the decision to have it replaced with a hook and a prosthetic hand.
The realisation that his old career had ended, and adjusting to life with one hand, sparked months of depression.
He said: "I was depressed for a long time.
"I always had aviaries and I found that sitting in the bird room was actually helping.
"I decided to set up a rescue centre, mainly for caged birds, but I'm finding I get a lot of other birds now.
"I had a peregrine falcon the other day.
"It's really helped me. Instead of sitting in the garage talking to myself, I talk to the parrots."Food donation
The married father of one started the venture in December 2009 and currently has between 20 and 30 birds at the centre, with African parakeets, Java Sparrows and Bengalese finches among them.
Now, he says, the phone rings "non-stop", mainly from people wanting to re-home unwanted birds in the aviary which Mr Leedham runs at home.
He added: "A lot of them are brought to me because people don't really want them anymore.
"I have done a lot of re-homing of birds.
"I get nothing - all I ask for is a donation towards the food. There's nothing in it for me, my main worry is the birds."
Mr Leedham lives off mobility allowance and income support.
He is now hoping to fund the centre by registering it as a charity and inviting donations.
He added: "And I would like to get bigger premises where people can come and see the birds and learn about them."