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My name is Claire Brimacombe, and I am an analyst living in East Sussex, close to the South Downs National Park. Here I enjoy many long walks, taking in the scenery and watching the wildlife. It is on one of those walks where my story begins...

One crisp, but sunny morning in November 2018, my husband and I set out on one of our favourite circular walks, starting at the beautifully quaint village of Alfriston, East Sussex. We set off along the path that runs behind Deans Place Hotel, alongside the River Cuckmere.  As we reached the rear of Alfriston churchyard, we were stopped in our tracks by, what I now know to be an albino squirrel. It ran swiftly across our path, and scurried up a tree. 

This was my first sighting of a white squirrel, and at that time, I had no idea that there was such a thing. I managed to quickly take a photo.  I was surprised at how tame it appeared to be. We watched the squirrel for several minutes until it disappeared through the trees and off into the churchyard.

As we continued our walk, I started to search on my phone for information on white squirrels. I was surprised to read that there were thought to be just 50 in the country, with a 1 in 100,000 chance of an albino or white squirrel being born. 

I felt really fortunate to have seen one and set out to understand more about them. To assist with my research, I set up accounts for FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and published a website for people in Sussex and surrounding areas to share their sightings and photographs with me.  

More and more people started to contact me to let me know that they had seen a white or albino squirrel. It became evident that there was a fascination and adoration for them. Many people tell me that they didn't know there was such a thing and how magical it is to see one. 

White Squirrels of Sussex has now featured in a number of publications, including The Argus,  East Grinstead Living magazine, Ashdown Forest Living magazine, BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Gloucestershire.  

In November 2019, exactly a year after my first sighting, BBC South East Today featured my research and reporter Charlie Rose joined me on location to film one of the local albino squirrels.

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