Peter Norgrove – Photography volunteer

Peter Norgrove – Photography volunteer

Name:  Peter Norgrove

Department: Maintenance /Gardening / Photography teams

Volunteering start date:  September 2015

What do you do in your day-to-day life?  

I am a retired Art / Photography teacher.

What made you apply to volunteer at The Big Cat Sanctuary?

For four consecutive years before I retired I brought groups of ‘A’ Level Photographers to The Big Cat Sanctuary for workshops. A number of the students said that it was the best school trip they had ever been on!

What expertise do you bring to the sanctuary?

As a former Art teacher, it was somehow fitting that I spent the first few months painting enclosures or standoffs. The palette is consistently either green or brown (!) More recently I have helped with Photography workshops which utilises my teaching experience.

Which resident Big Cat Sanctuary cat is your favourite cat and why?

Nias (Sumatran tiger). He was the first cat I saw at The Big Cat Sanctuary, is an amazing looking cat and has an awesome presence about him. When he gives you ‘the stare’ you are truly grateful for the steel mesh that keeps the pair of you apart.

What do you enjoy most about your time at The Big Cat Sanctuary?

I think like a lot of volunteers, the lack of people on site always gives the impression that you are working in your own exclusive safari park. The cats always appear relaxed, are extremely well cared for and however small the task is that you have been assigned, you do feel you are helping a little.

What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?

There can’t be many places of work where you can look up from whatever it is you are doing to see that you are being watched by an apex predator, the smallest wildcat on the planet or any of the fifty or so equally impressive cats in between.

Tell us your most memorable experience at The Big Cat Sanctuary.

A couple of years ago while I was working on site a pilot in full flying gear ran by me with a look of total panic on his face. He had lost one of his parachute jumpers! It seems the jumper had misjudged the wind speed and in preparing to land had somehow missed Headcorn Aerodrome, The Big Cat Sanctuary yard, all The Big Cat Sanctuary enclosures, the high voltage railway line that borders the site and also the road that runs parallel to this. My daughter was driving this road at this very moment and saw him looking a bit shaky in a nearby field.

Tell us something we wouldn’t otherwise know about you.

I produce art work inspired by The Big Cat Sanctuary cats from upcycled jigsaw puzzle pieces (

To date I have completed ten of these (Nias, Laila, Xixi, Tiny, Mia, Neptune, Malawi, Mandalay, Nuwara), my most recent picture of Maya which took exactly five months to produce is due to be unveiled at The Big Cat Sanctuary Open Days in July.

What is your favourite animal and why?

Tiger… They are beautiful and majestic creatures.

What would be your advice to someone who was thinking about volunteering their time?

Do it. Although you are probably not going to make the same contribution to saving endangered animals as someone like Sir David Attenborough, as the saying goes… ‘every little helps’.