Stanwick Group of Churches

November 2019

Dear Friends,

At the end of September Truro’s Hedgehog roundabout, featuring four giant wooden hedgehogs, was named as the best roundabout in the UK by the Roundabout Appreciation Society. Hedgehogs have a special place in our hearts and back in 2013 were voted to be Britain’s national symbol from ten species nominated by wildlife charities. 

Sadly, the number of hedgehogs in Britain has plummeted from an estimate of 36.5 million in the 1950s to possibly as few as 1 million now. Interestingly hedgehogs are doing better in urban areas and in rural areas they are tending to do best on the edges of towns and villages where they can roam through gardens. One key thing we can do to help hedgehogs is to create hedgehog highways by creating holes big enough for them to get in and out of our gardens (if you haven’t already have a look at the Hedgehog Street garden at RHS Harlow Carr). As we approach bonfire night it’s also important to be careful to make sure hedgehogs (pets and other animals) aren’t hiding inside our bonfires before we light them. Build on the day, dismantle and move just before lighting, or protect with 1m high chicken wire all the way round.   

Last autumn we put a hedgehog house in our garden and we’ve been fortunate to have a regular hedgehog visitor. Last May we had quite a drama when our hedgehog got caught up in the net of Laurence’s football goal. Thankfully Vets4Pets in Darlington were more than happy to see him at short notice and within an hour he was scampering back off into the undergrowth in our garden. Ever since then I been extra thankful to catch a glimpse or hear him ruffle and snuffle by the patio window. However, over the summer months I’ve also noticed numerous squashed hedgehogs on the roads around Aldbrough and it disturbs me to think that so many members of an endangered species are perishing on our local roads.

Unfortunately hedgehogs don’t have much of a flight instinct. They just curl up and wait for the danger to go away – not much help when a car is hurtling towards them. It may be that hedgehog highway hazard notices will feature on or roads in the future to remind us to watch out for hedgehogs and slow down.

But should we really need reminding to slow down? The roads around our villages are used by cars, huge lorries, tractors, motorcyclists and the most vulnerable road users of all – horses and their riders, cyclists, runners and pedestrians, sometimes pushing babies in prams. As motorists zoom by or edge up ever so close behind it can feel as if the protection and care of other people (or animals) doesn’t matter when we’re on the road. In the rush to get from A to B we are too often willing to put other’s lives at risk. We fail to treat one another as precious individuals of infinite value, deeply loved.

Sadly it is not just on our roads but recently in our political discourse that the sanctity of the lives of others, particularly the most vulnerable, has sometimes been forgotten. Whatever happens on October 31st, as we enter November and the season of remembrance we must never forget what can happen when individual lives are treated as dispensable in the pursuit of ideology.

I hope and pray that this season of remembering the war dead and our dear loved ones departed can also be a time of hope for the future and of cherishing life around us as we drive and go about our daily lives.

With every blessing,


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