Bow Selecta: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!” sang the late and very much lamented David Bowie, commenting on the state of the world (unless he was pretending to be a steam train approaching a major station, which I doubt), and I’d love to know what he’d make of the state of the planet now. Personally, I think when he and the equally missed Lemmy (from Motorhead) died, that was the start of the world slipping into some form of dark, unpleasant alternate right-wing Trumpian universe… but I digress before I’ve even started, which is good going even for me.

The world always has and always will change; people have gone through times of feast and famine, peace and war, joys and sorrows, Bowie and Jedward (etc). Since time began and we have more change ahead of us here in Beeston too. In a couple of hours, I’ll be heading off to one of our newly re-opened pubs for a (hopefully lovely) socially distanced Sunday lunch sat outside in what looks to be glorious weather. How different from a few months ago when the world was cold and grey, everything was closed, the news was relentlessly depressing and the only social interaction I had was with postie and Amazon drivers.

We’ve lost a few shops and businesses too in that time (indeed one near me appears to have closed without ever having open up; an empty shop had a big refurbish, new window signs in anticipation of opening and then… nothing. Signs gone, windows whited again…). However, more shops, restaurants and venues are opening up now and there seems to be a dynamism and buzz about Beeston that’s impossible to repress (not that I’m trying). Older readers may recall a time when Beeston had a cinema, but now we have a new facility on the verge of opening, the market is back and whilst we may lament some old favourites (I miss you, Chimera Games) we have loads of new restaurants and shops to support.

But what about *us*, the people of Beeston? How has this past year (and longer) affected you? Not at all – or at least very little – for some; massively for others in terms of health, wealth and happiness. Some losses will stay with people for the rest of their lives, but I hope as a community we can pull together to support each other even though it’s been a tough time.

It’s easy (especially in a world where we’ve been hiding away and deliberately avoiding human contact) to retain that wariness and suspicion and allow it to grow into mistrust or even fear; reports of pet and bike thefts or the antisocial behaviour of children and teenagers in parks can take hold and colour a world view more than is desirable. Are things worse than they used to be? There are quotes from ancient Greeks bemoaning the lack of respect youngsters show to their elders, I think it was ever thus. Bike thefts in the area do seem appalling, but a friend in the Police tells me the whole ‘pet napping thing really isn’t an issue (or at least certainly nowhere near as bad as the media (and social media) frenzy around it suggests.

And maybe it’s the weather but I’m feeling a bit more positive too; even though there’s still no Robin Hood work around I’m getting things done in the garden and around the house and something’s changed in my head too – it feels like a genuine determination to move forward, to be positive and not to let a bleak past claw me back into the black and grey.

A positive attitude has to be a good thing I’m sure – for me and for all of us, and for Beeston. For as the great Mahatma Gandhi (himself a one-time visitor to Beeston)* said to the little boy who had swallowed a number of coins and wanted to know how to get them back, “Just Wait. Change is inevitable”.

* I know, he didn’t really say it, Disraeli did – but he never visited Beeston, so Gandhi’s way cooler.

TP

Nicholas Cage*: The inside scoop

We’ve had many famous types pass through our town, and some even make it their home.

One who is more prominent than most is Nicholas Cage, who for several years has been staring from his window for several years now, like a sentinel watching over the Square ensuring that harmony reigns. Despite being notoriously taciturn, and made of cardboard, we still decided to approach the star of The Croods, Color Out of Space and other films you somehow overlooked existing and get the inside story:

Sorry the Oscars overlooked you this year. How you feeling?

Yeah man, I really thought I had a fighting chance with my new film, Jiu-Jitsu (it’s on Netflix, go watch) but it’s all politics man.

You took up residence above the High Street crossing in Beeston a few years back? What attracted you to the town?

Was drinking in this little pub the Pottle and one thing led to another and I moved in with this Irish guy, nice guy, but always made me do the pots.

You subsequently disappeared for a few years, causing much distress among Beestionians. Where did you go, and why did you desert us??

Ah man, I had to go get in fighting shape for my new film Jiu-Jitsu, have you seen it? You should see it. And then Covid hit and I couldn’t get back to my Irish Bro…

We’re grateful you’re back and looking better than ever. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen from your excellent vantage point?

Couple of pigeons fighting over a Greggs sausage roll. Not Jiu Jitsu style though.

You once appeared on an edition of Channel 4 News when they recorded a piece from Beeston. Was this the highlight of your screen career?

I did?

Yes you did.

Man. I guess my highlight so far is living in Beeston, want my face on that wall next to Tesco though.

What words of wisdom have you for the people of Beeston?

Wear your mask dudes and dudettes or we’ll be having a Face-Off…

*cardboard

Many thanks to Cardboard Nic Cage’s agent, Peter Daly, for arranging this interview. Jiu Jitsu is now available on Netflix. Spare yourself, and don’t watch it. Honestly.

LB

How outdoor sport in Beeston is bouncing back after lockdown

After the darkest winter in recent memory, spring has arrived with blossom on the trees and the country now having the freedom to play outdoor sport again. Isaac Seelochan speaks to the sports club chairman, secretary and those who are delighted that their daily exercise is no longer just walking and jogging.

Most local sports clubs across the country would have been fearing for their future when lockdown first struck Britain in March last year.

Despite being given a temporary rest bite last summer, they soon had to close their doors again during a second national lockdown in November.

This was followed by a third at the start of the year which many believed to be the worst yet.

But after the dreary winter months of January and February, the country is outside again and enjoying the smell of freshly mowed grass and the thunderous sounds of an ace.

Any club without its members cannot survive so those in charge are understandably pleased to be back.

“We’re absolutely delighted because we know how much people want to play,” says Chris Clift, chairman of Chilwell Tennis Club who were voted club of the year by LTA Nottinghamshire for 2020.

“Obviously we can only have up to six people but if we find that it gets booked up then we have another six who play later on.”

Left to right: Chilwell Tennis Club treasurer, Peter Whitehouse, and club chairman, Chris Clift, with the club of the year award

The clubs enforced closures over the past year have given them time to upgrade to all-weather courts.

They will now be open beyond the spring and summer months after years of attempting to improve the club.

The 67-year-old added: “We managed to get funding from Sport England, Nottinghamshire County Council and the Chilwell Memorial Institute have pitched in as well.

“The dream has virtually become a reality.”

Whilst many will be eagerly returning to the clubs they have missed; some are taking part for the first time.

Denise Preet, 58, recently had her very first experience of Chilwell Tennis Club and is thrilled that the lifting of restrictions allows her to play the sport she loves on a brand-new surface.

“My friend has been a member for a few years, and she told me we ought to come down and have a look at the new surface because we like to play,” she said.

“The surface is innovative and with my knees being of an older age I will hopefully be able to play for longer.”

Denise Preet, 58, hopes the new court at Chilwell Tennis Club will help her play on for longer 

Nottingham Croquet Club are also enjoying being back as club secretary Ellen Gee explains.

She said: “We were well and truly ready to open again because a lot of our members have been stuck at home, so it was nice for them to come back and play.

“Membership has been static since we reopened which is good as some clubs have lost a lot of members because people are having to shield.

“We’re also having three open days this year as our first one was invitation-only due to us having to facilitate a reduced lawn capacity because of covid restrictions.”

The club held a junior day for school children during the Easter holidays with one of those in attendance being eight-year-old, Tilly Hallam, who enjoys the social side of croquet as well as playing several other sports.

“I enjoy that I can see friends as well as playing,” she says.

“I also do swimming and hockey.”

Eight-year-old Tilly Hallam is a fan of croquet

The lifting of restrictions has arrived at the perfect time for Adam Plumbley, chairperson of Beeston & Toton Sycamore Cricket Club, as preparations for their season get underway.

The 32-year-old research librarian began his tenure when they were struggling for volunteers and players after suffering several relegations on the bounce.

Several players were tired of the negativity at the club and started holding secret pub meetings before Adam and several others took over from the previous long-standing board in 2019.

They were one of the few clubs last summer who met the necessary criteria to play on public land under Covid restrictions and Adam is pleased that remains the case.

He said: “It was relief in the fact that we know we’re going to get a season and I think it was key that you’re allowed to go and do sport before you can go to somewhere like the pub.

“The big thing about cricket is that it is a very social sport in terms of the time that you get to spend with a wide group of people who you wouldn’t necessarily meet anywhere else, as well as the idea of being able to go outside and enjoy the summer days that we’re hopefully going to get.”

The club has worked hard like most to ensure that they can re-open with several safety steps needing to be considered before opening their doors again.

“We’ve had to do quite a lot of covid based risk assessments including all the steps that we’re taking to reduce transmission,” Adam says.

“We have a set of guidelines from the ECB (the England and Wales Cricket Board) including that we’re only allowed to practice in groups of six and if we are at games, we need to have breaks every six overs to make sure everyone’s washing their hands.

“A few players who are more vulnerable chose not to play last year but many have come back recently because of the vaccine rollout and their confidence in the procurations we’ve taken, which I think demonstrates the positive work we’ve done.”

The one clear message from everyone is the welcome return of the social side of sport which has been sorely missed over the past year.

Normality in everyday life may still be some way off but the return of outdoor sport signals the road towards it.

Click here to find out more about Chilwell Tennis Club.

Those interested in joining Nottingham Croquet Club should contact them here.

Email batscc1@gmail.com if you are interested in joining Beeston & Toton Cricket Club.

IS

The power of friendships, old and new

When living and working in the Rylands you become very aware of the long-established families and friendships within the community. What’s less obvious are the new relationships and friendships being formed through social groups such as Friday Club (the weekly social dining club for the over 60’s). Here’s the story of two Friday Club regulars Peggy and Freda, and what their friendship means to them.

Around two years after her husband’s death, Peggy was only going out to do her shopping and was struggling with her grief and feeling lonely. She was told about Friday club through a friend in the Rylands. She went the first time with a friend and started to look forward to going. Freda joined the group a little later and in Peggy’s words their “friendship just exploded from there, it was so easy to be friends with her they just clicked straight away.”

The first adventure was to Bardills garden centre and they started walking together locally once or twice a week. They attended Janet’s 24-hour danceathon in October 2019 where
they danced and laughed the night away till 4 am.

Their birthdays are two weeks (plus ten years) apart and they started a tradition of having fish and chips on Queens Road to celebrate. Social distancing wasn’t going to deter their
friendship this year as they sheltered on opposite ends of the bus shelter to enjoy their feast.

Peggy shared that if she didn’t have Freda she might have not gone out as much over lockdown and have “locked myself away again – I am really pleased about being friends, we
can just laugh and be at ease.”

Following the death of her husband Bob, Freda moved to Beeston to be nearer her daughter. Freda knew no one else, and would just go walking. Like Peggy, Friday Club was
recommended to her, and a regular called Frances met Freda at the car park so she didn’t have to go in on her own. At her first meeting, she sat between the regulars Peggy and
Sheila where there was a space. Peggy, Sheila and Freda just got chatting, and after a while, she started joining them on little trips to places like the film club at the heritage centre.

Sadly Sheila passed away, and Peggy and Freda’s relationship just developed. Freda explained that they go walking and have little adventures, “It’s just nice – and it’s a laugh. We
speak every day on the phone. She came to my birthday party last year and my 70th this year so she knows all the family – they think Peggy is lovely and they’re amazed at how I’ve
opened up. When I have bad days – sometimes she senses it – it’s weird.”

Peggy explained that another Friday club member has christened them the “lively birds” – “lets face it, we all know each other at Friday club, before Friday club when my husband was still alive I would see people around the Rylands and say hello, but life was so busy I never really knew them. Friday Club brings people closer together, we all have grief in common, friendship is important. I don’t laugh with anyone else as much as Freda.”

Friday Club is open to all residents over 60. Meetings are every Friday between 1.30 and 3.30 pm for food, friendship and fun. Since the latest COVID-19 restrictions it’s changed to
phone calls, Zoom meetings and food deliveries, but Friday club will be back as soon we can meet safely again.

JB and NR

Survive and thrive: Why community matters part 2

As once again we find ourselves in a second lockdown, with Christmas approaching it feels appropriate to capture the mood and reflect on what we have found during our community work in the Rylands.

For many there is an expectation to maintain a stiff upper lip and plough through these unprecedented times, when in reality there is a need to allow ourselves to mourn our seasonal traditions and get-togethers that we’ll be missing this year.  This year, the picturesque ideology that we often feel pressure to achieve seems more out of grasp than ever. So we’re starting a conversation to say that it is okay to admit that it’s not OK. Feel free to say that this is rubbish! It’s okay to verbalise that this is hard, and difficult and dismal at best, that we miss our loved ones and friends. It’s okay for our Friday Club Clubbers to be unhappy that their weekly get together is on hold, and to not want to embrace Zoom calls or elbow rubs or face masks or social distanced walks in the torrential British weather.  It’s okay for our young people to miss youth club, and it’s okay for volunteers to be tired and ask for support.

There is a trendy slogan doing the rounds on social media stating “We are all in the same storm but we are not in the same boat”. While this in many ways is true, we can offer lifeboats to those who might be taking in water, we can recognise that some boats may be weathered or weary and giving out distress calls. This does not mean the boat and its crew are doomed it simply signals that its community needs to help slow the leak and support that struggling ship to navigate itself back to safe shores.

This Christmas for many of us is about weathering the storm and remembering that behind every dark cloud is blue sky. We all have different ways of coping, whether it’s go for a run by the river with your permitted one companion, going for a walk with your family and picking up a takeaway coffee on the way, or staying home keeping safe and warm until the storm passes. It’s likely that Christmas will be different this year for most of us, so let’s be kind to ourselves and one another. Let’s enjoy the simple pleasures of the season and remember there is hope around the corner in the shape of vaccines, our caring community, and the thought of the arrival of a brand new year.

Beeston Rylands Community Association update

Beeston Rylands Community Association (BRCA) continue to provide lunch deliveries and support to elderly residents. All the while the team keep adapting their work to comply with the changing COVID-19 restrictions. When we emerged out of full lockdown, we reintroduced Friday Club (our social dining club for the over 60’s), and therefore reduced the food deliveries.

We instead introduced a food voucher scheme, where all those previously receiving a food delivery could go to the Boat House Cafe and get some hot or cold food twice a week.

Since the tightening of restrictions, we’ve reintroduced twice-weekly lunch pack deliveries for the most isolated in our community. This work made possible thanks to Sarah, Sandie and Tony of the Boat House Cafe, our team of volunteers, and our funders: Broxtowe Borough Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, NET Coronavirus Appeal Programme, Martin Lewis Emergency Fund, and individual donors. If you need help, please contact Janet Barnes, Development Officer / Volunteer: 07904 067160, janetmbarnes@ntlworld.com.

JB

Optimism

As I write, it’s been a couple of days since the long-awaited news that finally a vaccine for Covid has been found; even more astounding is that it apparently has over a 90% efficacy – and recently a second equally if not more effective vaccine was announced.

Now I know there’s still a long way to go before anyone I know ends up having it administered, but at least theoretically it appears Covid may be on the back foot for once. By this time next year, we may be looking back and breathing out a little.

Of course, that’s not a given; there may be stumbling blocks along the way, but I am vastly heartened by the prospect of an end to lockdowns, fear and people both catching – and very sadly dying from – a novel virus.

Some of the barriers may be scientific, logistical or legal; others may be entirely human – the tinfoil hat brigade who won’t swallow medication but will swallow just about anything else it appears. Sadly the country now seems to have a risibly high percentage of people who don’t see the irony in using their mobile phones to insist online that ‘the vaccine has a chip in it which can track you’, or that ‘they’ll use it to turn your brain off’ – a ship that for them has patently already sailed. Still, I guess it’s nice to think they imagine they’re that important that the government would want an extra way to track them…

Having said that, I don’t think anyone would need tracking devices for me at the moment, I’ve spent pretty much all the time since the first lockdown in my house – and I’ve been loving it. I’m an anti-social bloke at the best of times, enjoying movies, reading, gaming, painting miniature wargames figures and sleeping when I’m not looking after my six-year-old daughter (which means, in reality, I get very, very little time to do anything in that list). But unlike so many people I’m perfectly happy in my own company with Radio 4 on. I do have some good friends and family who I keep in touch with online and that’s great too – but I don’t imagine it’s been as fun for most people who enjoy going to football matches, clubs, big family gatherings, as well as out to work, seeing friends in real life etc.

Of course, being a self-employed Robin Hood I’ve lost a lot of work (all of it, actually) as the tourism trade is… well, it isn’t. Not only have all of my normal gigs gone but even the special ones – I was supposed to be taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Parade in London last weekend and I’ve even lost my favourite last gig of the year, being Santa for the annual kids Christmas concert at Nottingham’s Albert Hall. So yea, like a great many others my income has decreased significantly, but thankfully I can still write and illustrate so compared to a great many I’m very lucky – but I’m very much hoping things can pick up again next year.

Hence yet again my being incredibly thankful for the massive effort made by scientists and researchers worldwide to get this pandemic under control. Those of you who’ve read my ramblings before will know I’m a big geek – I love Star Trek (the proper one with Captain Kirk, obviously). The inherent optimism in that show is something I’m feeling now – that despite things being bleak, despite there being economic loss, sadness and death all around us the world has pulled together and done something about it in record time. The folks who complain about the vaccine being found so quickly compared to other diseases (etc., etc.) seem happier to complain than realise that when everyone pulls together we can get things done, make life better, easier and give people back something that’s been missing since all of this started – optimism.

TP

Grassroots football club feed over 100 people during half-term

A football club in Chilwell provided free meals during the half-term break.

Phoenix Inham FC helped 140 individuals as they joined a number of restaurants and cafes across the country in feeding disadvantaged people.

The club’s efforts have been recognised on Twitter by Marcus Rashford who has been a leading campaigner in trying to end child hunger in Britain.

The England international footballer successfully forced a government U-turn to extend free school meal vouchers over the summer.

But the scheme was not extended during half-term – a move which prompted widespread criticism.

Richard Ward, chairman of Phoenix Inham said: “I think it’s disgusting.”

“There’s a lot of parents who have lost their jobs and suddenly you’ll go from having a permanent wage to having nothing whilst trying to afford a mortgage and everyday household bills.

“People need free school meals.”

Richard was born in Chilwell so knows the importance of providing food and support to the local community.

“We spoke to a lady whose partner was furloughed back at the beginning of lockdown and sadly on Monday they received a phone call saying they’ve gone into liquidation,” he said.

“They’ve got a family with two children who they now can’t afford to feed.”

Latest government data shows that the percentage of students eligible for FSM’s has increased across all schools from 15.4% in 2019 to 17.3% in 2020.

That percentage is only going to increase with the number of people losing their jobs during the pandemic.

The club have been providing free food during the half-term break

32-year-old Kylie Goodband has been volunteering at the club after recently losing her job as a carer.

Kylie said: “If I was in need then at least I know that I’ve got people to come to when I need it.”

“I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands at the moment so I like to help out as much as I can.”

The Beestonian have asked Broxtowe MP, Darren Henry, to comment after being one of over 300 MPs to have voted against extending the FSM scheme.

Mr Henry has yet to respond.

IS

Survive and thrive: why community matters

Only now we are emerging out of full lockdown can we fully comprehend the extent that all our lives have been affected over the last six months. The aftershock for many has been as traumatic as the immediate impact of the pandemic.

As part of Beeston Rylands Community Association, we pulled together a fantastic band of volunteers who helped deliver food and friendship to the most in need within our community. We discovered the significance of continuity and consistency of twice-weekly food prep, activities, and letters and while at times monotonous, it was the only real source of certainty for us and the recipients. As a result, we made new connections and friendships with people we previously wouldn’t have crossed paths with and found that existing friendships were not only invaluable but strengthened as we navigated our way through difficult times.

One of those friendships has been our own. Thrown together through our work, we found courage and support in each other over the last few months. So as we emerged out of lockdown, we decided we needed to embark on a Thelma and Louise style adventure (without the bad bits). We ventured out of our beloved Beeston and drove up the M1 to do The North East Skinny Dip 2020 in aid of the mental health charity MIND.

For us and many other people mental health and its journey can sometimes be an uphill battle, it ebbs and flows and has an irritating ability to disarm us unexpectedly.

Jumping into the freezing cold sea was about letting go… of our clothes, yes, but most importantly of the past and all the things that can’t be undone. It was about connecting with a friend and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones.

Before we ran into and out of the cold North sea together, we agreed now is the time to shake off the past, and focus on the ‘what next’. To use this experience of running into the unknown as a catalyst for evolution into new community projects, our “survive and thrive” plan.

“Survive and Thrive” is about investing in activities, connectivity, and opportunities for our community. This includes first-rate new social facilities, delivering new classes and courses, and developing a community transport scheme.

Our column is about optimism and moving forward as a collective whole. We’ll update you on community matters, whilst trying to uncover the unexpected, the quirky and the brave aspects of Beeston life. It won’t always be full of laughs, but it will use real-life case studies to demonstrate what’s possible. We recognize now more than ever that we can’t be sedentary when it comes to community and inclusion. The time is now.

JB & NR

Thinkin’ Inkin’: How one woman took a gamble on changing the tattoo industry

I opened Jurassic Tattoo Company on Wollaton Road in August as a safe, comfortable space to be tattooed. It’s not going to be like other tattoo studios and I’m striving to be very radically different in the way I treat artists and customers.

I was originally a psychology researcher who started my PhD and quit due to a huge mental health breakdown. After many suicide attempts and little clinical help, I worked my way into the tattoo industry to find that the mistreatment and hazing of newcomers was harmful to my recovery. I was shocked at the awful way customers were often treated. I made it my mission to create something different.

Being tattooed is an extremely personal and vulnerable experience. During the tattoo process, a customer fully trusts their artist with a permanent change to their body, as well as letting them physically handle them for a stretch of time. They are in pain and experience a rollercoaster of endorphins and neurotransmitters that can induce intense feelings. I believe that this neurochemical rush, mixed with the prolonged close contact and the fact that they may be getting the tattoo for a meaningful reason, means the tattoo process has the potential to be either psychologically therapeutic OR psychologically damaging to the person. Which one it is depends on the professionalism of the artist and the atmosphere in the studio.

Unfortunately, in the industry, there are often less than ideal atmospheres in studios which intimidate or shame clients, rather than make their tattoo a safe and positive experience. From subtle things like having intimidating decor (“do not enter unless you’re a goth”) vibes! to shaming a customer for only wanting a small tattoo… to the small handful of artists who use their position to sexually harass clients.

“After working in psychological support in both the NHS and private sectors, I can honestly say that more therapy can be done on the tattoo chair than can be done in 6 sessions of CBT.”

I want to change this industry, or at the very least, provide a homely safe space for all clients to come, have a lovely chat and feel valued. After working in psychological support in both the NHS and private sectors, I can honestly say that more therapy can be done on the tattoo chair than can be done in 6 sessions of CBT. People naturally open up as they are already vulnerable and emotional. I believe this should be handled with the most respect and care possible.

Like many others, my business and personal finances have taken a huge beating throughout lockdown. I have scraped through only due to the huge amount of support I’ve had from my customers who have been booking on to my waiting list, buying my artwork or taking part in my tattoo raffles. I am hugely grateful to all of them and have been really surprised and touched by the amount of interest I have received!

It has been going overwhelmingly well since we opened, with my books being full until January 2021, and we’re all working incredibly hard to try and prepare for the possibility of another lockdown. Knowing that I may not be able to work for months with zero financial support from the government is a huge pressure, but I hope I can weather the storm if it does happen.

Jurassic Tattoo can be found at 76b Wollaton Road: Insta: @jurassictattoo; FB: @jurassictattoocompany

SC

Autumnal Guide for Helping Hedgehogs

Over the summer, you may have seen hedgehogs scuttling about in your garden in the evening.

I have a wildlife camera set up in my garden, and I was delighted to see footage of hedgehogs munching on the food I’d left out for them, and huffing at each other! This was particularly great to see, as hedgehog numbers have declined by approximately 50% since the year 2000. As we transition into Autumn and the weather gets a little colder, hedgehogs are beginning to hibernate. Although this means you may not see hedgehogs in your garden anymore, this doesn’t mean they’re not there, and certainly doesn’t mean they don’t need your assistance! The points below are easy tips (and some more challenging projects) for helping hedgehogs in your garden at this time of year:

You may have collected a pile of materials for a bonfire. Hedgehogs will find this pile to be a very inviting hibernation site! The best way to ensure that there are no hedgehogs nesting in the pile is to move it before you light it. If you are unable to move it, make sure to lift up the base with a broom handle and inspect underneath using a torch.

“Look out for Autumnal juveniles. These are hedgehogs that are old enough to be independent from their mother, but are too small to hibernate.”

Make or buy a hedgehog house. This provides a safe place for hibernation. Hedgehog houses can be as simple as an upturned plastic box with a hole cut out for a door, or can be much more sophisticated. Check out: www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more information

Look out for Autumnal juveniles. These are hedgehogs that are old enough to be independent from their mother, but are too small to hibernate. Hedgehogs can hibernate at 450 grams, but will fair better at 600 grams. If the hedgehog regularly visits at night, happily eats and is active, it is probably best to leave it be and put out food and water for it (more on this topic later). If possible, weigh the hedgehog weekly to make sure it is putting on weight. If you see a hedgehog out during the day in Autumn (this can be OK in the Spring/Summer), having trouble moving around, spending long periods of time curled into a ball when under no threat, or any other behaviour that doesn’t seem quite right, it needs attention. Contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society as soon as possible on 01584 890801. If you’re not sure, it’s best to call the number above just to make sure.

In addition to these Autumn-specific tips, below are some tips for helping out hedgehogs all year round:

Make a 13x13cm hole in your garden fence to allow hedgehogs to roam between gardens. Go one step further and ask your neighbours to do the same.

Put a shallow dish of water in your garden for hedgehogs to drink; this is especially important in hot weather. Go one step further and put out a dish of meaty pet food (make sure it’s dairy-free). Caution – don’t offer milk! Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.

Written by the Hedgehog Friendly Campus group at The University of Nottingham.

Contact hannah.constantin@nottingham.ac.uk for more information.

HC