Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A Visit to Tiggywinkles

From Tony Thain:

A couple of weeks ago I took some time out to drive south to visit friends and relatives. I had also contacted Tiggywinkles, the wildlife hospital near St Albans, and arranged to meet with the head nurse, Claire Campbell, with whom Tonia had struck up a friendship while dealing with injured or ill hedgehogs. On arrival I was met by Claire and Les Stocker MBE along with another staff member who took me on a guided tour of all the areas of the hospital that the visiting public do not normally see. Unfortunately, I was not able to take photos in the labs or wards as the flash might have disturbed all the different species of wildlife that was being treated there.

During our conversation, Les expressed his appreciation of the community and all the friends of Tonia who had made donations in her memory and was surprised that such a small community could have collected close to £500 in her memory. The comment was made by another member of staff that Tonia must have been a very special person to have put such an effort into the welfare of hedgehogs with very little financial support.  My comment was that the community helped in other very important ways, explaining that bedding, redundant newspapers etc were only a phone call way. But the important thing for Tonia was that she had raised awareness about the plight of hedgehogs and wildlife in general.

Once we were outside I was able to take a few photos, although the rain had appeared on cue. I was particularly touched by the discrete plaque that had been placed in Tonia's honour and that both Kilchoan and Achnaha had been remembered. No doubt the observant reader will have noticed that our surname has been mis-spelt, although I have been assured that this will be rectified straight away.

If anyone is in the vicinity of Tiggywinkles at Haddenham, it is well worth a visit, as they do not concentrate solely on hedgehogs, but any wildlife that has been found injured. During my visit I saw badgers, foxes, four species of deer, red kites, owls, water fowl and of course hedgehogs, although most were asleep, being nocturnal.

I came away with many tips and information about caring for hedgehogs, but most importantly I had felt very close to Tonia during the visit, as this was her passion.

On returning to The Old Dairy I found that a young hedgehog had taken up residence in the generator shed. Bert, as he is now named, was underweight, so he's been taken into the "wash-up" to be fed and hopefully released before the really cold weather sets in; if not he will be in residence until the spring.

So it seems that it has been decided for me that I will be continuing to look after hedgehogs.

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