Hundreds of locals came to the Sun Public House in the centre of the village for a day of fun and celebration, and to find out more about everyone’s favourite wild animal - the Hedgehog. Saturday 29th April is now a red letter day for Windlesham as it became the first ‘Hedgehog Friendly’ village in England.
Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue (HAWR) started their Amazing Grace campaign that features Grace, a rescue hedgehog that came to the centre with a bad cut and too underweight to survive winter hibernation.
At the beginning of Hedgehog Awareness Week, a small team of volunteers from HAWR - headed by founder Anne Brummer - set up marquees full of information about hedgehogs and how to make your garden hedgehog friendly. Anne said “There are some simple things that nearly everyone can do in their garden to help hedgehogs”. Firstly, they need access to your garden, we have some simple ‘templates’ available for free - simply cut the hole into your fence and you have created a little “highway for hedgehogs”.
Having got the hedgehogs into your garden, you will want to provide them with food and water. HAWR recommends dry cat or dog food with plenty of fresh water. Wet cat or dog food is also good but can attract flies in warmer weather, it is important to keep the feeding area clean and tidy as hedgehogs can be very messy eaters.
A few more tips to keep your garden hedgehogs healthy and happy - provide shelter, this could be a hedgehog box or natural cover, don’t be too quick to tidy autumn leaves and let your grass grow a little longer, at least in part of the garden. If you have a pond, provide a ramp and remove steep sides; hedgehogs are good swimmers but they will drown if they can’t get out of the water.
If you have a swimming pool, make sure it's covered and if you have drains make sure they are covered. Never set a bonfire alight without checking for hedgehogs and always check before you strim or mow the grass. Please don’t use slug pellets or any chemicals - they don’t only kill the weeds, slugs and snails but the hedgehogs, birds and insects that when present, provide the natural balance of predator and food within your garden.
Amazing Grace received the backing of Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove sporting an Amazing Grace T shirt, who said he was delighted to support the campaign. Surrey Heath Council’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Valerie White who is a keen supporter of wildlife and the local environment was pleased to show her support too.
The day was attended by many local businesses and schools and it is hoped that the village will soon benefit from even more hedgehog friendly areas in private and public areas. HAWR volunteers delivered leaflets to the entire village and placed banners around the village.
HAWR and the Save Me Trust have been busy in the community for a year supporting residents and improving habitats; early indications are that the hedgehog population has increased this year making this the first hedgehog friendly village.
It’s wonderful to see the whole community working together for the benefit of hedgehogs and so many people attending this day. We were there from 11am to 10pm. People were waiting for us and the people arriving just didn't stop. Anne Brummer said, "Everyone here today has all the information they need to help our local hedgehogs and enjoy having a ‘Grace friendly garden’. Don’t forget to tell us if you have hedgehogs in your garden via our map on the HAWR website. We continue to work with the community improving more areas for hedgehogs."