THERE was a double celebration at Bromsgrove’s Willows Hedgehog Rescue over the weekend – to thank the work of the charity’s volunteers and officially open the 12-pen Dan Dan’s Lodge.
Work began on the lodge back in January and the foundations were laid last year, following a massive fund-raising drive by the centre which is ran by Jayne Lawrence and Charlie Walker.
Jayne told The Standard: “We want to say a massive thank you for all the help we have been given.
“It has been very humbling to see how much help we have received from companies, organisations, local residents and councillors.”
Among the biggest contributors have been Lush and the Pet’s at Home charity Adoption for Pets.
“People who know us, see our passion for the project and want to help.
“It is the need to raise awareness and bring about change that drives us to do what we do,” said Jayne.
The pair have built up Willows from small beginnings at their base in 2010.
Jayne and Charlie began by starting turning the plot at the back of their house into a wildlife garden for birds, bees, butterflies and whatever other species wanted to come in.
Among the visitors were a blind hedgehog who first sparked the couple’s interest in the prickly creatures.
Jayne added: “We built a home for him and he used it – we were amazed and it all went on from there.
“Over the last five years we have got bigger and bigger to accommodate the number of hedgehogs we take in.
“I think once you start to love hedgehogs there’s no escaping and you have to do something for them.”
She said the opening of the new lodge had come at a good time because this year had been the worst one yet – especially with garden injuries. Hedgehogs fall victim to poisonous products, such as slug pellets, fall in ponds and end up with horrific injuries after being at the wrong end of strimmers and lawn mowers when gardeners don’t realise they are there.
Last year, Willows had 320 hogs pass through its doors in total, which included 110 over the winter. And, having taken in 215 so far this year, the pair are heading for a grand total of 1,500 over the five years they have been operating.
Charlie said: “We are now approaching the busy autumn period.
“And, with the amount we have had already this year, I think by the end of 2015, we will have easily helped more than 450.”
The pair both full-time and when they get home from work, they get changed and start to seeing the hogs they have.
Currently, they have 50 in their air conditioned hospital who will be moved to Dan Dan’s Lodge when their health improves.
Former Bromsgrove District Councillor and civic head Janice Boswell was among those who gathered at Willows on Saturday.
She has known the couple since they started the charity.
Leading three cheers to mark their accomplishments, she said: “I am so proud of what you have achieved – to think what it was like when you began and where you are now is wonderful.”
Following Saturday’s event, Jayne said: “Today has been a day of thanking the volunteers, foster carers and those who support us in any way they can.
“Without all their help we could not do as much as we do, so thank you.
“What we have done so far has been great, but it is still only putting a sticking plaster over the problem – we need to do more to raise awareness and get more people involved in protecting hedgehogs and looking out for them.”
For more on Willows Hedgehog Rescue and what you can do to help the charity and the county’s hedgehogs,