Have you seen a seal with netting on it? Have you seen a seal with netting on it? I'm Pete Bevington. I live in Hillswick at the wildlife sanctuary with my wife Jan. We look after seals and otters. I've been smoking since I was about eleven years old. I've been wanting to give up ever since my mid-twenties, but my lifestyle wasn't making it easy and it was only when I came to live at the wildlife sanctuary that I was really able to give up cigarettes and smoking for good. Smoking, once you get past the initial thrill of doing it, it doesn't feel good. And if it's not doing you good, then it's not doing nature good. So when you're looking after these tiny creatures who come in, they're often just a few days old, you do feel this huge responsibility for looking after them and making sure they survive, and we really owe it to these creatures to show them the best of ourselves. And giving up smoking is a great way to start. When we bring in animals that have lost their mothers, it's really heartbreaking and that just puts you in touch with yourself, and puts you in touch with your responsibilities as a person. So this is Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, where we look after seals and otters. At the moment we only have otters in. So we never actually see Thorpin, or any of the otters. The only evidence that they're here is, that's all that's left of the fish in the morning. I had my first cigarette when I was seven years old, but I didn't actually touch them again until I was about 11. I carried on into my twenties and it was only then that I started feeling the effects of it and the chestiness, and started thinking: “Oh it would be good to stop doing this.” I mean I'd pretty much managed to give up smoking and suddenly these news reports came on about a tanker spilling 85,000 tonnes of crude oil on Shetland. It completely horrified me, and upset me, and made me furiously angry, that what felt like my home had been obliterated by this terrible tanker spill, 85,000 tones of crude oil spilled on the shore of Shetland. The stress around that and the anger around that, got me back into smoking, and it was a way of getting this rage out of my system. I came to Shetland a few months later and shortly after that I met Jan. She was dealing with all the seals and all the otters that were affected by the spill. She was the only other person I met in Shetland, who was on the same wavelength as me, and I was still smoking at that time and it was only when I came to live at the wildlife sanctuary, I was able to stop smoking for good, really because I had found what I was looking for in life, you know, it was working with animals and with someone I loved deeply. The first seal we went to collect together, and it just felt like a tremendous privilege, really, to be able to be involved in a seal rescue and actually pick up this helpless creature and bring it back here and keep it alive. We’ve got four otters in at the moment. We're just about to release Ranger. He's been a great character, Ranger. He came 11 months ago, and we got a call from a salmon farm. So we drove straight down there. We think the mother may well have got caught in a lobster creel which are dangerous for otters. So Ranger was orphaned. When you first get them in, they have to feel like they're loved. You have to make them feel like you're their mum, because the mother teaches them everything. We're now gonna go and release Ranger. Fantastic. OK, Ranger. Your new life is about to begin. Well, I'm the sort of person who needs to be doing things a lot, and smoking fulfilled that side of me. I like to keep myself busy doing things that make me feel good these days, and one of the things that makes me feel very good is cleaning up all the rubbish that we find on beaches every single day. It's good for the environment and it certainly helps me steer clear of things like cigarettes. When you actually bring in a seal pup or an otter cub it really affects you in a deep way, and it puts you in touch with a deeper part of yourself. We kind of become separated from our natures a lot, because we live in such a civilised world - an unnatural world. And that's one of the reasons why we get into these habits like smoking. OK Ranger. This is your life. If we could be more in touch with our own nature and our own wild nature, because we all have a wild nature, we'd be less prone to those sort of addictions. OK Ranger. Because a lot of these addictions come from not being able to live the life you want to live, and being able to tune in enough to yourself, to understand what it is that you're looking for. OK Ranger. This is the start of your new life. Brilliant, what a relief. A true ranger, yeah, that's right. The thing with smoking is you do it as an automatic reaction to fill a hole that you feel inside yourself. Living in this beautiful place, having a much closer relationship with the animals, gives me enough satisfaction to leave those cravings behind, and I've not smoked for 25 odd years now.


This Wildlife Guardian Quit When He Found His Calling

This is a sample from our ‘Quit Cigarettes’ mission, which is currently live in the UK. Our goal is to increase the amount of people in the UK who quit cigarettes. Read more about our first mission here.

On the Atlantic-facing side of the Shetland isles is the small village of Hillswick, home to a wildlife sanctuary trust that rescues otters and seals. It was here that Pete Bevington found his calling, his partner, and respite from the smoking habit he'd had since he was 11 years old.