Retirement of our Founder

PAGE 2 Top Sue Gelison

A message from our Trustees: Jacha Potgieter, Saph Gordon and Hugh Holman

After 20 years of dedicated service as one of Orangutan Appeal UK’s longest-serving trustees, our founder, Sue Sheward MBE, has taken the decision to retire from the board of trustees and her position of chairperson of the charity.




Sue had her first encounter with orangutans at Jersey Zoo, founded by naturalist Gerald Durrell. She was captivated by a mum and baby and spent well over an hour just watching them interact and play. Her love of orangutans grew from there and she started researching their plight and finding out what she could do to help them. It was then, following a trip to volunteer at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre several years later in 2000, that she decided to focus on supporting orangutan conservation. The Centre was in dire need of a large enclosure for the orphaned babies and Sue offered to fundraise for one. Once the target of £5000 was achieved, and after much negotiation with Sabah Wildlife Department, she then returned to Borneo. Supported by a team from Chester Zoo, a brand-new enclosure was constructed. The babies could not have been happier. This marked the beginning of what went on to become Orangutan Appeal UK, which has been operating as a registered charity since 2001.

Sue’s hard work and commitment to the charity has enabled us to go on to lead a pioneering research project; be instrumental in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of scores of orphaned and displaced orangutans; provide funding to build improved facilities and supply veterinary equipment; and much, much more. We hope you will join us in wishing Sue all the very best for her retirement.

Despite the setbacks inflicted upon us because of the pandemic, we are more determined and committed than ever to continue our vital mission to help conserve the critically endangered orangutan and its rainforest home, and to build upon Sue’s legacy. We aim to do this through our continued collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Education of Sabah, in particular Sabah Wildlife Department, who not only own and run Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre but who are responsible for the regulation, protection, conservation and management of all the wildlife of Sabah; and building on and renewing partnerships with other charities and NGOs working in-situ in Borneo for the long-term future and survival of the orangutan.

Of course, we would not be able to do any of this without the fantastic and generous help of all our supporters across the world. Thank you to you all.