Pumpkin’s Wildlife Hospital in Rickmansworth invited friends and supporters to attend their official relaunch on Thursday, October 26, before the doors officially opened this month.
The launch event was attended by actor and charity ambassador Peter Egan, as well as the Mayor of Harrow ccouncillor Ramji Chauhan.
Over the summer, construction works oversaw the transformation of a formerly damp and draughty animal rescue centre into a high-quality wildlife hospital, replete with heaters and veterinary infrastructure. New facilities are aimed at rehabilitating hedgehogs, foxes, birds, badgers, and other local animals.
Alongside treating a maximum of 90 animals at any given time, founder Ana Lapaz-Mendez also intends to develop an outreach programme for schools, gardening groups and youth clubs to raise awareness on the importance of British wildlife.
Ana, a veterinary surgeon originally from Spain, said: “Alongside providing care to animals usually sacrificed by clinics due to lack of funding, we want this to be a space where every member of the community can get involved.
“We have a very high success rate of getting animals back into the wild. At a time when UK wildlife is declining and habitats are regularly destroyed, our work here has never been more important.”
Volunteer Michelle Elias-Silva added that there are many ways that people can keep an eye out for local wildlife.
She said: “There’s so much you can do in your own garden: making a hedgehog highway or feeding the birds. We hope to educate people on how they can do simple things like this.”
Another volunteer, Alice Graham, told RickyNews that she got involved with Pumpkin’s after being told by a vet that an injured grey squirrel she’d found would have to be put down.
Alice said: “I remember thinking, surely there must be an alternative. There aren’t enough spaces like this one.”
The charity’s own mascot, a fox called Pumpkin who suffered vision loss and brain damage after an accident, would surely also have been put down if it weren’t for the hospital.
Ana said: “I wouldn’t keep him alive if he was really suffering. But as long as his quality of life is good, I think it’s worth it for him, me and the charity.”
Less than a month after the official launch, hospital volunteers are proud to report that they have welcomed the first patients to the premises.
Head of operations Pippa Aldritt said: “We had an animal welfare inspector visit ahead of taking in any animals, and I’m pleased to report that we passed with flying colours. Over the coming weeks, we want to start rolling out training to volunteers whilst slowly taking in animals.”
The first two guests are a pair of injured pigeons who will hopefully be soon released back into the wild.
Pumpkin’s Wildlife Hospital was founded in November 2021 and moved to Stockers Farm in Rickmansworth in February this year. To find out more, head to www.thewildlifehospital.co.uk
Photo credit: Jenny Burrows