As thousands of people enjoy the comfort of one of the most popular Christmas gifts, eight-week-old Titch – and scores of other rescued hedgehogs – will also feel the benefit of the freeze-busting fleece.
Thirty blankets, created out of leftover onesie material, have been made for the Cleveland Hedgehog Preservation Society (CHPS) by staff at The All-in-One Company, which has just celebrated its seventh birthday.
It has dozens of bags of remnant material and asked charities throughout the North East how it could be put to good use.
Hand-made blankets have been handed over to a Tyneside charity for the homeless and now mini versions have also been given to the CHPS which every year looks after hundreds of abandoned, orphaned or injured hedgehogs.
Its chairman Chris Firth and his wife Barbara looked after hedgehogs for 16 years at their home in Billingham and now support the society’s 86 members and 10 volunteer carers.
“We’ve had calls in the middle of the night from the fire brigade about hedgehogs trapped down drains and one Christmas we were looking after 22 – as well as our family and friends,” he said.
Despite the efforts of CHPS and other volunteer groups around the country the number of hedgehogs in the UK has fallen from an estimated 1.55 million in 1995 to less than a million 20 years later.
Intensive farming and the disappearance of hedgerows have taken their toll of rural hedgehogs and in towns and cities the trend towards paved and decked gardens has also had a major effect.
One MP is so concerned about the future of one of the UK’s best-loved animals that he is suggesting it replaces the lion as a national symbol. He believes the status would encourage more people to look after them.
Hedgehogs, like Titch, born in the second litter of the year are especially vulnerable – particularly if they get lost or their mothers are killed. “We call them the Autumn orphans,” said Chris. “They struggle to put on enough weight before hibernation and do not have the fat reserves to survive. Keeping them warm helps them to get through. If anybody comes across a hedgehog which looks injured or ill please take it to a vet. It will be treated and then passed on to us for care.
He added: “We would like to thank The All-in-One Company for its generosity in providing us with the fleece blankets it’s donated to our charity. These will greatly assist us in the rehabilitation of orphaned or injured hedgehogs prior to being released back into the wild. Without this kindness and support we would be unable to continue helping the local hedgehog population.”
Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One Company which is based in Ashington in Northumberland, said: “We all sat down and thought of beneficial ways to use all the larger pieces of remnant fabric we have. We’ve always given away sacks and sacks of small offcuts to schools and craft groups, so we were delighted when charities came forward asking for blankets.
“We hope we’ll help to keep Titch warm over the winter and look forward to hearing about his progress when he gets released in 2016.”
The All-in-One Company was launched in 2008 after Kate could not find suitable sleep suits for her two young children. It soon started making onesies for adults – each one designed through The All-in-One Company website by the customers themselves.
The onesie quickly became the must-have Christmas gift and The All-in-One Company has become a popular partner for advertisers and reality TV shows.
Charities should contact the company via its website www.the-all-in-one-company.co.uk/.