THE Andover Homemakers’ Club’s open meeting and bring and buy event took place in October, with welcome guests from the Inner Wheel.

The speaker on this occasion was Lauren Todd, who came to talk on the very worthwhile work done by the Hart Wildlife Trust. This charity is based in Alton (where it also has a volunteer-run shop), and is a renowned rescuer of small creatures, both birds and mammals.

Lauren showed members the variety of creatures they treat, and the kind of incidents that cause wildlife to need their attention. Besides voles, squirrels, pigeons, owls and many other small animals and birds, the creature that takes up most of their time and resources seems to be the unfortunate hedgehog. They are often brought in injured in some way due, in a large part, to human carelessness and / or interference with their habitat.

Hedgehogs roam over a large area in search of food, doing a great job of munching on slugs and snails, so we could make their passage from one garden to another easier, and encourage them by providing shelter and by leaving out food and water all year round. Dog food goes down well, and is much better than bread and milk, which can upset their digestion. Being short sighted, hedgehogs do get into trouble, getting stuck inside tin cans and through the plastic rings that keep beer cans together. They’re not much good at crossing roads either! And though they can swim, they tire easily and can drown in a garden pond if there is no ramp on which to climb out. Ingesting slugs that have been killed by slug pellets cause hedgehogs to suffer a very painful death, and the use of garden equipment such as strimmers can cause nasty injuries, so humans do need to be aware and a little more careful.

Accommodation at the trust is limited for larger victims such as deer, so these are usually passed on to other centres for care. Many of the creatures have to be hand reared, and with feeding every couple of hours, there is not much rest for the team, especially at peak periods with the newly born wildlife. Sadly, it is not always possible to save each creature brought in due to stress from the proximity of humans is a complication of their injuries. Lauren said they are able to return at least 50 per cent to the wild, eventually.

Members had several questions on how best to encourage wildlife in their gardens, and Jacky Hutchins gave the vote of thanks for a very worthwhile and appealing talk.

In other business, the altered date for the 2018 annual outing had been raised, and met with little interest, so it had been decided to leave a decision on this in abeyance until the new year.

Members were thanked for their kind contributions to the sales table, and the three special raffle prizes were all won by Homemakers’.

The annual meeting on 21 November will be followed as always by bingo, with the competition ‘The prettiest cup and saucer’.

Guests and visitors are always welcome. Contact Jacky Hutchins on 01264 323520.