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When Huff Puff the hedgehog first arrived at the Furze Pig Hedgehog Rescue Centre in Peterstow last October, she was in poor health and weighed a mere 250 grammes. We are very pleased to be able to report that after a lot of care and attention from Maureen, proprietor of the centre, Huff Puff now weighs in at a massive 2kg and is about to be released back into the wild. Huff Puff certainly lives up to her name, huffing and puffing when doing something she doesn't really want to do, such as be weighed or encouraged to show her face for too many cameras.

Huff Puff is enormous by normal hedgehog standards, as Stephen, who arrived at the Furze Pig on Boxing Day is considered a large hedgehog at 800 grammes. You can see a massive difference in their sizes in the photographs below. Maureen told us that all of the hedgehogs receive the same food etc., so Huff Puff's size is a bit of a mystery. Stephen is due to be released into his natural habitat next week, as is Big Al, who was named after Alan and has been in Maureen's care since last July.

Maureen does get attached to her patients, but although she feels a little sad when she lets them go, she is really pleased that they are going back to where they belong.

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Meet Huff Puff the giant hedgehog, along with Big Al, Stephen and Sprite, the legendary 37 year old riding school pony.

Maureen has over the years nursed many hedgehogs back to health, from babies so young that their prickly spines had not yet grown to more mature ones who had been injured or were malnourished. However, Maureen's care has not just been extended to hedgehogs. She has also been caring for Sprite, a 37 year old pony, who is very well known locally. Sprite was once a schooling pony at the Lea Riding School and most children in South Herefordshire who took lessons their learned on Sprite. When the school closed, Maureen offered him a home, where he is still enjoying life.

At Christmas time, Sprite became very ill with liver disease and Maureen thought she was going to lose him. The vets didn't hold out much hope either, but with lots of medical attention and love, Sprite is now back on his feet and eagerly awaits his regular treats of ginger nut biscuits. Maureen was very touched by all the get well cards and messages she received for Sprite.

Providing all this care for Sprite and the hedgehogs is very expensive and the cost of medicines, food electricity etc. has to come from Maureen and her husband Derek's own pockets, save for a few kind donations made by visitors and the local Animal Welfare Shop. If you would like to help Maureen to continue in her valuable work she would be grateful for any donations of cat and dog food, (fish free varieties), newspapers to line the cages with and maybe a packet or two of the hedgehogs' favourite treats, digestive biscuits.

If you would like to help, give Maureen a call on 01989 567288. She will be extremely pleased to hear from you.

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Maureen holds up Huff Puff, whilst she weighs Stephen who now weighs 800gms.

Huff Puff fills the scales as she weighs in at 2kg and looks huge compared to Stephen.

Big Al says goodbye to Big Al who is now weighing a very healthy 800gms.

Most children in South Herefordshire will have learned to ride on Sprite, the 37 year old pony.

'I won't smile until Maureen brings out some more ginger nuts!'
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