Rory’s exciting role at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

WorkFit Candidate Rory has increased his confidence and customer service skills through a paid role at The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, with the support of WorkFit. 

Rory’s journey

Rory has a keen interest in wildlife, and as a scuba diver, a passion for sea dwelling animals. He had kept himself busy during the pandemic, but he wanted to get back to work to feel that sense of achievement and belonging. Rory and his family knew that he would be a competent employee but needed some support to find the right role with the right team.

The Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit employment programme reached out to The Cornish Seal Sanctuary to discuss opportunities for Rory to work as a Food and Beverage Host. The Seal Sanctuary, based in Gweek, Cornwall, is a charity that rescues and rehabilitates grey seal pups from around the Cornish coastline.

From his first visit to the sanctuary, it was clear that Rory would enjoy working there. The Operations Supervisor Alison introduced him to the other staff and showed him the café where he would work. He also saw the seal hospital, the penguin area, and the sea lion tank. Rory confidently explained that he would like to work there.

Rory’s mum Jeanette was quite emotional witnessing this opportunity, telling us “Watching Rory’s confidence grow is a revelation, and this newly found independence is spilling over into his everyday life at home. He is talking and thinking about his future, which to be honest, wasn’t something that was happening before.”

Rory loves being part of the team and when asked who his favourite person was to work with, he said “All of them!” With regards to his job, he told us “I love looking after the guests, seeing my colleagues and being in the team, wearing my uniform and feeling independent.”

A meaningful and interesting role 

Rory is working in the onsite café, serving customers, clearing tables, checking the temperatures of the fridges and checking on stock. He has recently built up to using the till to take payments too. He has a great way with staff and customers alike and always has a smile on his face, even after he gets home following a busy shift. Rory said “I enjoy going to work. Everyone is nice to me. I love it!”

Recently, Rory had the exciting opportunity to support the Animal Care team in releasing a seal pup. He remained at the right distance so as not to frighten the seal and had the role of collecting up the boards and keeping an eye on things. His mum said that it was a very moving and calm experience and it helped Rory to see how the funds from the café support the ongoing work of the charity. Rory is also going to help raise some much-needed funds for the sanctuary by taking part in an upcoming fun run, ‘Sprint for Seals’.

Rory’s family have been very grateful to Workfit for the support that was provided to both them and the employer to find such a meaningful and suitable role. At Rory’s first job review, his mum Jeanette said of her WorkFit Officer “Your clear, straight forward way of dealing with things got us all into a positive, trusting, let’s do it mode. We couldn’t have done it without you. You really have done something life changing for Rory. A paid job, a dream job for anyone that loves people and animals. It really should be celebrated.”

A supportive employer

Alison from the Cornish Seal Sanctuary has been supportive of the WorkFit programme from the very first contact. Kind, understanding and compassionate, she instantly bonded with Rory over a mutual passion for horses.

Her support and understanding extended to Rory’s family too with Jeanette saying “We have ALL as a family been kindly and sensitively supported by Alison, which really is going above and beyond and is so appreciated. Alison Noy is an extraordinary person, she is proactive, positive and capable. We feel very blessed that Rory has found his way to her and the team.”

Alison was also keen to emphasise the benefits of including Rory in her team, telling us “Rory has been a fabulous addition to the team and fits in really well. He is great with the customers and will confidently upsell products.”

Although Rory’s role is a Food and Beverage Host, Alison knows that Rory has a passion for animals, and has suggested that he can spend some time with the Animal Care team too. He will be able to shadow them and understand what is involved in rehabilitating the seals prior to release.

Rory has been welcomed by everyone at the Seal Sanctuary and has received outstanding support.  His buddies have been caring and reassuring, ensuring Rory quickly felt part of the team. Thank you to the team at The Cornish Seal Sanctuary for this wonderful opportunity.

To find out more about WorkFit and how we support people who have Down’s syndrome to access meaningful work opportunities that can benefit the rest of their lives, please contact the team on 0333 12 12 300 or email us on For more information visit the WorkFit website: