With bonfire night approaching it is very important that we check any unlit bonfires for wildlife, especially hedgehogs. We thought it would be a great opportunity to collaborate with the amazing local Hedgehog Sanctuary – Hornbeam Wood to tell us a bit more about what they do and how we can help. Set up by Martin Maylin in 2015 the sanctuary has rescued 100’s of hedgehogs and this year alone they are expecting to release 200 hedgehogs back into the wild. Martin also shares his top tips on how we can all help protect hedgehogs on bonfire night.
Tell us about Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary?
Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary was set up in April 2015. We are a family run operation with help from the local community. The charity looks after Hedgehogs which are sick, injured, underweight, or orphaned baby hoglets. Injured Hedgehogs are de wormed, de-flead, and any ticks are removed from their bodies. Hedgehog collections are made from the public and veterinary practices in addition to the work involved in the daily care of the hedgehogs.
The sanctuary is set in about 10 Acres of woodlands, fields, and hedgerows. There are special pens and gardens for the hedgehogs which are protected to avoid any harm or disruption from people. The sanctuary is not open to the general public and the members have other occupations so spend their free time helping the hedgehogs at the sanctuary.
Why did you start it?
In my early childhood I was brought up on a working small holding and surrounded by animals that I helped look after. I grew up with in a stones throw away from a wildlife sanctuary run by someone called Grahame Dangerfield in the 1980s and used to volunteer as a child helping at his sanctuary. As a child I was often saving wildlife such as swans on the local river (The River Lea) that had gotten entangled and trapped. I had travelled most of my adult life and lived and worked in countries such as Canada, United States Of America, and Africa.
In my late 30’s I had to resign from the work I was doing for health reasons (I was at the time working in Nigeria, Africa) and return to the UK. By chance, Grahame Dangerfield who had been living and working in Kenya, Africa also returned to the UK. I met with Grahame who happened to be selling the old sanctuary so I told him my plans to continue looking after wildlife, but specifically hedgehogs as they are now an endangered species and need all the protection and help they can get. And so it began, with one hedgehog…
On average how many hedgehogs do you help per week?
At peak times of the year it is not uncommon for us to receive 5 or more hedgehogs per day. The maximum we have had going though rehabilitation at anyone time is around 80 hedgehogs. Hedgehogs can be in our care from a few weeks to several months. We are expecting to release around 200 hedgehogs back in to the wild this year, this number has been steadily increasing since the charity was founded.
What type of things can people do to help the sanctuary?
Most of the costs involved in helping the hedgehogs at the charity are currently covered by the members but some very generous people donate both money, food, and time. We are always in need of old clean towels and jelly based dog or cat food. We are often at craft events and setup stalls though out the year. If you have any items you’d like to donate to us which we can sell at these for the hedgehogs at these events, that would be lovely. Tommy & Lottie have recently donated some hedgehog prints to raise money for the charity.
You can also donate to us online by visiting www.hornbeamwood.org.uk/donate-hedgehog-rescue-sanctuary.
With bonfire night coming up what are your top tips in helping to protect the hedgehogs?
- Build your bonfire on the day you plan to light it, leaving little opportunity for wildlife to crawl inside.
- If you are lighting the bonfire some time later, ideally relocate the bonfire as wildlife would more than likely have setup home inside it.
- Always check an unlit bonfire for wildlife, especially hedgehogs, before you light your bonfire by using a broom stick and torch to lift the base of the bonfire and look and listen for signs of life.
- Light the bonfire on one side only giving any wildlife inside an emergency exit through the unlit side.
- Help raise awareness of the risks to wildlife by asking bonfire event organisers to check their bonfire before lighting or download and display our awareness poster. (https://bit.ly/35OjDCo)