‘They are very territorial’ - The seriously ill Hethersett woman offering a haven for hedgehogs

PUBLISHED: 12:42 16 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:42 16 August 2020

Connie Tindale, 75, in her garden in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward

Connie Tindale, 75, in her garden in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward

Copyright 2009

A seriously ill Hethersett woman has been giving the gift of life to hundreds of small creatures over the past few years.

Connie Tindale, 75, in her garden in Hethersett. Picture: Peter StewardConnie Tindale, 75, in her garden in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward

Connie Tindale suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and the incurable disease Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) but that hasn’t prevented her from caring for hedgehogs at her home.

Connie regularly takes in sick hedgehogs weighing just a few ounces and cares for them until they are strong enough to be released back into the wild.

She has turned her garden in Grove Road into a hedgehog haven, leaving out food and water every day for prickly visitors, providing heat pads and homes for hogs struggling to survive and monitoring their welfare through a series of CCTV cameras.

Connie admits that she feels deeply about hedgehogs whose numbers have fallen alarmingly from 30 million a few years ago to their current numbers of less than a million. She admits that their vulnerability and helplessness is one of the reasons she is attracted to them and she feels it deeply when “one of her guests” doesn’t make it.

Recently a collection was taken for Connie via a Facebook page and realised over £200 from local people who wanted to recognise and shower her with gifts for what she has done for her prickly friends.

“I was stunned by all the gifts which were delivered by another Hethersett resident Hannah Harrison who is another great supporter of hedgehogs and wildlife in general, as is our village dentist Paul Baisley,” Connie said, adding that she doesn’t allow her illnesses to get in the way of caring.

“I have learned to live with the illnesses and don’t let them dominate my life,” she said.

Connie has led a full and colourful life that has included living for 16 years in Egypt where she launched the children’s charity Little Stars whose aim is to help orphaned, abandoned, disabled and disadvantaged children.

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Connie was expelled from Egypt for openly criticising the ruling regime. Little Stars has recently diversified by providing equipment and a container for Hethersett Jubilee Youth Club.

She has also written a number of books on subjects as diverse as Japanese gardens, Bonsai trees (she has a collection), books about Luxor (including one entitled “Luxor Love and Lust”) and a novel “The Fall of Thebes.”

She has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and visited Cambodia at the height of the rule of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Connie, 75, has lived in Hethersett on and off for 40 years, maintaining a home there even when living in Egypt. She was born in Kent and lived for part of her childhood in Barrow in Furness before moving to London.

At 18 she married her husband of 57 years, Mick, who was in the RAF. She came to East Anglia and lived for a number of years in Watton before moving to Hethersett.

She spent a period teaching accountancy and statistics at Norwich City College. Connie and Mick have two children and two grandchildren.

Connie was also instrumental in setting up a highly successful creative writing competition for Hethersett schools which has seen more than 150 entries in each of its two years of existence.

She helps with the judging and personally sponsors the prizes and says she is proud to help engender a love of writing in young people.

Nowadays, however, it is the hedgehogs that take up much of her time, although she feels she is still very much an amateur who continues to learn about the small creatures in her care.

“They fight like hell, they smell, they are very territorial, at times they refuse to hibernate, they get worms and ticks, they get injured by strimmers, run over by vehicles and attacked by dogs but I care for them because they cannot cope with the modern world and the continuous loss of their habitat and I am extremely concerned by their diminishing numbers,” Connie added.

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