JULY saw the end of the Rotary year and a simple handover ceremony from David Richardson to the new President of Morpeth Rotary Club Laurie Walker.
Mr Richardson retired as a senior teacher some years ago and was the Major General in the recent highly successful MIDNAG production of the Pirates of Penzance. Mr Walker was a senior manager with Courtaulds, Managing Director of Jockey Shorts at Team Valley, Gateshead, and has just retired as senior executive of a large and growing Anglo-Chinese textile company.
With recent press coverage of the possible extinction of British hedgehogs, it was timely for the main part of the meeting to be a talk by our own North East ‘Mrs Tiggywinkle’ — Moira Simpson of Forest Hall. She runs the Pricklepad Hedgehog Hospital for the treatment, care and rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs. She said that they are the gardener’s friend as they eat slugs, snails, black beetles (their favourite food) and worms.
They have been around for 30 million years and their skeletons have been found alongside dinosaur bones. They are nocturnal and usually hibernate in winter. They live for seven to ten years and walk up to two kilometres every night to get enough food.
They sleep in a different place each day, often at the edge of a lawn and under a plant. Adult hedgehogs can bite and stab. If they sense a fox above them they can jump up to one foot high to stab it in the nose. They are good swimmers but quickly get tired.
Their only predator is the badger as they have very long claws. Babies have to be fed every two hours and must be toileted every few hours.
Hedgehogs are blind for the first three to four weeks, after which they can feed themselves. At seven weeks, they are not co-operative and need to be independent. Moira takes them back to the area where they were found, takes them out for two or three walks and then lets them go.
They are now protected as an endangered species.
Moira brought in two friendly five-week-old hoglets to be quietly introduced after the meeting as they don’t like noise.
The charity has saved hundreds and Moira gives each of them a name.