Around the UK, thousands of people are taking part in a sport that stands as a reassuring emblem of British society - one that has remained popular for centuries. When you think of bowls, it brings connotations of the summer, of parks and pristine village greens with young and old dressed in white and the gentle ripple of applause. Windlesham, the quintessential Surrey village, has had a Bowls green since 1933; the site adjoins the village Club and Theatre. Bowls is a sport filled with local heroes - every club seems to have one - and Windlesham is no exception. Take 90 year old Reg Rapley, current Chairman and the club’s Green keeper, who has played at the club for decades and both he - and his wife - have won almost every competition the club plays in.
Reg spends many hours a week, keeping the green in tip top condition for the players, but he looks after the wildlife and environment too. Reg only uses organic fertilisers - he calls the mix “Organic Tea” and uses no pesticides - ever! A testament to Reg’s approach and the variety of wildlife in and around the club’s site. Reg noticed a hedgehog in one of the ‘ditches’ that surround the bowling green. It was a cold and frosty morning and Reg was concerned for the hedgehog’s wellbeing, so he contacted Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue for advice. The hedgehog had become stranded on the green twice.
Anne Brummer (Founder of Harper Asprey & CEO at Save Me Trust) went to the site and made the decision that the hedgehog - who was named Euan - should come into the rescue centre for a few days because Euan could not climb out himself if he was to fall in again. It was also too cold to leave Euan there and he had pushed his luck twice already.
Anne asked Reg to install a ramp in the ditch area around the green so that Euan and his wild friends could find their way out of the ditch in future. He happily agreed and set about making a suitable ramp.
Euan is very distinctive because of his light colour - he’s a blonde hedgehog - but just like humans, hedgehogs can range from light to dark in colour. It is two recessive genes that give this unique blonde colour and his lovely dark eyes.
Euan spent time at the rescue centre being well fed and watered, and is enjoying his time in the outdoor runs. He’s had a wonderful time - blondes really do have more fun - before he was returned to his newly adapted home.
Brian May, pictured here with Euan on the ramp, said “The proof!!! He can climb out now! This chap, Euan, was rescued by Reg from Windlesham Bowls Club when he got trapped on the sunken green lawn. After some TLC at the Rescue Centre he's fully recovered, and as soon as the heatwave is over he will be back in his familiar patch. But this time safe from entrapment - and safe from poisonous chemicals too. What a great example for Britain to follow - to give hedgehogs a chance to recover.”
Euan is now fully recovered and will return home very soon. His release has been temporarily delayed by the current run of hot weather. It’s very hard for wild animals to find the food and essential water they need to survive. Hedgehogs like Euan will eat earthworms, beetles, slugs and snails, but during the hot weather they burrow deep into the ground as they need the moisture in the soil to survive and that puts them out of reach of Euan and his spikey friends - leaving them hungry. As natural water sources run low or dry up - the search for water becomes literally life or death for them.
We are encouraging everyone to put a shallow dish of water out for wild animals every night. Ideally, the plant pot trays you can buy in garden centres should be filled with gravel, as this helps to reduce evaporation and leaves small droplets of water under the gravel that all wildlife instinctively knows to search for. It also stops any accidents if baby hedgehogs fall in.
The Amazing Grace, Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue & Save Me Trust team presented the bowls club with a hedgehog friendly banner and also picked up some tips on how to play bowls. This much needed advice and guidance will be vital as the Windlesham Bowls Club have challenged our team to a bowls match to decide who will win the Hedgehog Cup!
Windlesham became Surrey’s first ‘hedgehog friendly village’ and the members of Windlesham Bowls Club have shown incredible support and commitment to help hedgehogs like Euan.