A LOCAL hedgehog hero has been named as a finalist in the BBC Spring Watch Wildlife Hero Awards.

The awards recognise the inspirational people who have dedicated their lives to helping wildlife - doing it quietly and with no fanfare.

They are designed to celebrate the amazing role people play in the fight to look after and conserve wildlife and protect it for the future.

Since establishing Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue in Otley during lockdown in 2020, Diane Cook and her team have provided critical care to hundreds of sick, injured, and orphaned hedgehogs.

Despite not winning the final award, becoming a finalist with nearly 1,800 nominations is recognition that celebrates her tireless efforts and dedication to the conservation and rehabilitation of hedgehogs in the local community.

A spokesperson for Prickly Pigs said: "Diane's hands-on approach involves everything from initial health assessments and treatments for parasites to long-term rehabilitation and eventual release back into the wild."

The rescue operates year-round and is entirely dependent on public donations and fundraising to meet its financial needs.

The need for such rescue operations has become increasingly urgent, with Britain's hedgehog population declining by as much as 50 per cent in some areas over the past two decades.

The Prickly Pigs spokesperson added: "Diane's work not only addresses this decline by directly helping individual animals but she also raises public awareness about the plight of hedgehogs and educates the community on creating hedgehog-friendly environments.

"In addition to her rescue efforts, Diane is committed to inspiring the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts.

"She regularly visits local schools and youth groups, sharing her knowledge and passion for hedgehog conservation.

"Through these educational sessions, Diane aims to instil a sense of responsibility and stewardship in young people, encouraging them to take active roles in protecting their local hedgehogs and other wildlife.

"Through her dedication, Diane has significantly impacted local wildlife preservation, exemplifying the spirit of the BBC Spring Watch Wildlife Hero Awards.

"Her recognition as a finalist highlights the crucial role of grassroots initiatives in wildlife conservation and celebrates the community's collective efforts to protect these beloved creatures."

For more information about Prickly Pigs Hedgehog Rescue and how to support their work, visit their website www.pricklypigs.co.uk.