At the age of 7, I became the UK’s youngest successful crowdfunder when I turned to the ‘crowd’ to help get my charity recipe book ‘Cracking Good Recipes’ published. Although seven years ago, I still remember the experience like it was yesterday. I was completely amazed at how generous people were and it helped me understand how we can achieve so much more when we work together.
I went on to crowdfund a second time, age 10, with a little less help from my Mum, founder of Can-Do Child® Lorraine Allman, and successfully raised over £1000 for Action Against Hunger with a cookery book full of interesting recipes from around the world. Again, I experienced the generosity, and positive impact collaboration can bring.
I still enjoy cooking and regularly budget, plan, and shop for family meals in the holidays when I have a bit more time.
I’m in Year 9 at school now so homework is more demanding, but the move to learning from home because of lockdown last year opened up a whole new world of interest for me… hedgehogs!
Local Hedgehog Champion
Mum and I were sat in the garden one day and we heard what sounded like snoring coming from a pile of leaves and twigs. We discovered later it was a hedgehog! I’d never seen one before and was curious why and how it had made its way into our garden, so started learning as much as I could about the UK’s favourite mammal. Now, almost a year on, I’ve become a local Hedgehog Champion and all the knowledge and skills I learnt from crowdfunding, as well as my interest in technology, have been really helpful in spreading the word about how to help these beautiful creatures thrive.
Arrival of the hoglets
The first thing I did was set up night vision cameras – as hedgehogs are nocturnal it’s really the only way to find out what they’re up to, and we were in for a treat! There was lots of huffing and puffing, bouncing, and snuffling! Within a few months we had hoglets too! I became aware just how endangered hedgehogs are, and wanted to do something about that to raise awareness, so I made a film – The Wonderful World of Hedgehogs which has become one of the most popular views on the Hedgehog Street YouTube channel, as well as winning ‘Best Narrative Film (Documentary)’ in the University of South Wales Film & TV Awards. I also built my own website www.hedgehogaware.org.uk and am working on a campaign to get manufacturers of gardening equipment to help gardeners be more ‘hedgehog aware’ by adding a sticker to items such as strimmers and netting.
Campaigning for hedgehog awareness
I’ve been interviewed by The Daily Telegraph, ITV News, BBC Wildlife, and various other media, so have been able to put into practice everything I learnt from my crowdfunding campaigns to help me with that, especially understanding how to communicate effectively whether as a live interview, or through writing. My campaign is proving a bit tricky at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much interest from manufacturers or retailers, but I’m determined to succeed, and any opportunity I have to raise awareness will help.
Hedgehogs love untidy gardens
One of the biggest dangers for hedgehogs is the over-tidying of gardens – the lack of hedgerows for them to use as cover, and strimmers used for cutting back long grass is damaging their natural habitats. Also, unlike other animals, they won’t run away if they hear a noise or think they’re in danger – they just roll up into a spiky ball, and the results of strimming injuries in particular can be horrendous, often fatal. Hedgehog numbers are in steep decline – in the 1950s there was estimated to be 36 million in the UK, but in 2020 there is thought to be less than 1 million – we have to take action to help them. Lockdown has been a double-edged sword, in some ways it’s been good because people have begun to appreciate the wildlife in their gardens much more, but others have got the gardening bug and focused on tidy gardens to such an extent, they are damaging the natural habitats of hedgehogs and other creatures.
In my role as local hedgehog champion, I talk with the community about what they can do to encourage hedgehogs into their gardens, and how to avoid injuries to them.
Netting and ponds for example can be problematic – hedgehogs can get caught and strangled in netting, and if there isn’t a ramp of some kind to help them out of the pond, they can die – hedgehogs are great at swimming, but they need help to get out.
Let a corner of your garden grow wild
My advice to micro business owners who may be looking over their garden, concerned at how it’s perhaps becoming a bit overgrown or untidy, is don’t stress – by leaving even just a small part of your garden to grow wild, you are supporting a wonderful natural eco-system to survive, which in turn will help our prickly friends thrive. Thank you to everyone easing off on the gardening. If you want some top tips on how to make your garden more hedgehog friendly, stroll over to www.hedgehogaware.org.uk and find out more.