In the 1950’s the United Kingdom had a population of some 30 million hedgehogs but that number is now estimated to be less than one million, with experts fearing that they could be extinct within the next 20 years.
Sandra Shepherd, is hoping to reverse that trend, by continuing to foster and adopt severely injured or hedgehogs including those suffering from blindness and amputated limbs.
She has been fostering from the Northumbria Hedgehog Rescue for about three years and is currently providing a safe and secure place for them to live for 17 animals.
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Northumberland Freemasons, through the Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund, have donated £1,000 to Sandra to assist with the day to day expense of the provision of food and bedding and also to create a number of custom built homes for the creatures.
Hedgehogs require a varied diet and have a banquet most nights consisting of calciworms, hedgehog food and poultry cat food. The always need access to fresh cold drinking water and should never be given milk as they are lactose intolerant.
Sandra explained “I am very grateful for the support from Northumberland Freemasons. Without the additional help I would be unable to help as many of these endangered animals and I hope that this year might see some successful breeding, which will see more hedgehogs being returned to the wild.”
Stuart Cairns, secretary for the trustees of the Richard Henry Holmes Masonic Benevolent Fund, representing Northumberland Freemasons, said: “In the Alnwick area, Sandra Shepherd is well known for the dedicated time and help that she gives to hedgehogs.
"Members of the local community will often bring wounded and injured hedgehogs to her home at all times of the day and in addition to the great relationships that she has with the veterinary practices in Alnwick, Sandra cares for many of the hedgehogs at her home, covering the costs, including food, from her own pocket.
“The trustees of the Freemasons Benevolent Fund heard that a number of ‘hedgehog houses’ in Sandra’s garden were coming to the end of their useful lives and were in urgent need of replacement.
"The trustees were delighted to grant an award of £1,000 to Sandra to enable her to acquire new ‘houses’ for the hedgehogs and give some financial support towards the cost of feeding them.”
The Benevolent Fund donates around £160,000 annually to local charities and good causes, including food banks, to boost worthwhile and deserving projects throughout Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.
Earlier this year, Alnwick Youth Hostel received a £5,000 grant to help with the cost of renovating an outbuilding to provide a secure area for visiting cyclists.
Freemasons buildings in the Province of Northumberland can be found in: Alnwick, Amble, Ashington, Bedlington, Bellingham, Berwick, Blyth, Byker, Cramlington, Haltwhistle, Hexham, Mickley, Morpeth, Newbiggin, Jesmond, Newcastle, North Shields, Seahouses, Seaton Delaval, Shiremoor, Throckley, Wallsend, Whitley Bay and Wylam.