Burnhills, the family-run pet, equestrian and smallholding supplies specialist has announced that it will be going into a “prickly partnership” with Oggles – a local Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre for hedgehogs.
Ever since Beatrix Potter introduced us to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle back in 1905, these endearing creatures – the only British mammals with spines – have held a special place in our hearts. However, our hedgehog population is under serious threat, declining in the UK at the same rate as tigers in the wild.
Numbers have dropped by 95 per cent since the 1950s, which might mean that in ten years’ time the only place you will see one, could be in a children’s book. But not if Vicky Greenwood has anything to do with it.
This hedgehog heroine has been running Oggles from her home in Dewsbury for nearly six years, helped by her partner, Steve. Already a self-confessed animal lover, with cats, chickens, a dog and a cockatiel for good measure, she found a hedgehog in desperate need of help back in 2010. Unable to find anyone who could nurse it back to health she took on the role herself, and from that moment she was smitten – perhaps captured not by cupid’s arrow, but a hedgehog’s spine!
Six years later she is currently looking after 140 hedgehogs, the largest number she has had at any one time. They come to her in various states of ill health – some are underweight, while others have lungworm or an injury. Her prickly patients will stay at the ‘hogspital’ for as long as they need to, but as soon as they are well enough they are returned to the wild, close to where they were originally found.
Hedgehog rehab specialists are as rare as the mammals themselves, so Vicky’s skills are in great demand – in just one week she was recently called out to Doncaster, Harrogate and Kellingley. But having studied hedgehog care at the Vale Wildlife Hospital in Tewkesbury, she is well equipped to test, diagnose and medicate the animals. That’s before she begins the mammoth daily task of cleaning and feeding her spiky family.
It costs £100 a week in food alone, so this noble not-for-profit relies heavily on financial and product donations to cover expenses. Yet the cause has had a huge impact on Vicky and Steve’s personal funds too – not to mention their home and emotional state! The couple are currently saving to build a dedicated unit in a bid to cope with growing demand for hedgehog rehab, and to reclaim some of their space back.
A loyal customer of Burnhills, Vicky has bought her chicken feed from the Cleckheaton store for more than five years. So, when she asked director Ben Burnhill and the team for help they jumped at the chance.
The business has spent 160 years helping people care for their animals, so what better cause to support in 2016 than Oggles – a fellow organisations based at the heart of the West Yorkshire community, dedicated to serving and preserving the local ecosystem.
As well as donating milk powder and cat biscuits to help build up the strength of Vicky’s hedgehog patients, Burnhills will be supporting Oggles with social media awareness building and prizes for raffles and competitions.
Customers will also be able to donate money in-store via dedicated collection tubs and Vicky herself will be making personal appearances during Hedgehog Awareness Week (1-7 May) – hopefully with some of her patients who are on the road to recovery!
Ben Burnhill said: “Animal welfare is a subject that is close to our hearts and Oggles is doing an amazing job in trying circumstances. The fact that Vicky is a long-standing customer makes this project particularly special to us.
“We’ll do all we can to help raise funds, increase product donations and promote awareness of the invaluable and dedicated service she provides to animals that don’t typically receive much attention.”