Truro roundabout hedgehog to star at Chelsea Flower Show

One of the four giant hedgehogs on the Trafalgar Roundabout in Truro has been given a makeover ahead of featuring at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
One of the four giant hedgehogs on the Trafalgar Roundabout in Truro has been given a makeover ahead of featuring at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show -Credit:Truro City Council

One of Truro's famous landmark giant hedgehogs is being given a starring role at the Chelsea Flower Show following a much needed spruce up. Five and a half weeks ago, tatty Denzil, one of four wooden hedgehogs to have lived on Trafalgar Roundabout just off the city centre for the past five years, was removed and returned to its former glory.

Now fully restored, the hedgehog has embarked on a special journey of his own to London to take centre place in the Truro City Council's garden display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Denzil and the three other members of the hedgehog family - Kizzy, Patricia and Cecil - first moved onto the busy Trafalgar Roundabout in 2019 as part of a project developed by the Wild Truro team, Truro in Bloom and Truro City Council’s Parks Department to raise awareness of the plight of hedgehogs and make the city more wildlife friendly.

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The giant wooden sculptures were designed and created by artist Emma Scott using coppiced wood from near her studio in Mellingey Mill willow wood craft centre in St Issey. Each one of the hedgehogs’ 3,500 prickles were individually chopped, hand carved by Emma and then drilled and stitched on to chicken wire which was placed around a metal frame, the head covered with coir fibre. The eyes of the hedgehogs were specially made from ebonised oak by Cornish Woodsmith Dominic Pearce.

Richard Budge, head of parks at the city council, said: "The original plan was for the hedgehogs to remain at the roundabout for 12 months. But then everybody fell in love with them and begged us to let them stay."

Over the years the hedgehogs were covered with branches during the winter months to highlight the plight of hedgehogs and encourage people to leave piles of leaves and branches in their gardens for the little spikey critters to nestle in and hibernate. Last year the hedgehogs took part in civic events, including the Coronation of King Charles III when they were given crowns and flags.

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They even helped the roundabout feature on the cover of the 2020 Best of British Roundabouts Calendar. "In fact the hedgehogs have become quite symbolic,” Richard added. “Rather than Trafalgar roundabout or the police station roundabout, as it used to be known, people now refer to it as 'hedgehog roundabout'."

However, after five years of exposure to Cornwall's at time inclement weather, the hedgehogs started to fray and tear and looked worse for wear. The four creatures have deteriorated, with their faces, prickles and frames all in need of some urgent repair.

They received a felt patch here and there but nesting birds picked off the coconut fibre off to make their own homes while some of the prickles have started rotting way and falling off. Denzil arrived at Mellingey Mill at the beginning of April where Emma and her team of six helpers got to work repairing him.

After 256 hours of wood cutting, wood whittling, drilling and stitching, the restoration was complete – with Denzil now looking as good as new. The hedgehog is the first of the family to have his makeover and will now be appearing at the famous flower show as part of the celebration of 60 years of Britain in Bloom display.

On his return from Chelsea, Denzil will travel to Wadebridge where he will form part of the display the city council is staging at the Royal Cornwall Show, to highlight the work the authority carries out in the city. He will then go back to Mellingey Mill to enable Emma to add an extra coat of protection to his prickles before joining his family again on the roundabout.

About the other three hedgehogs, Richard added: "We need to assess how much repairing Denzil has cost and then look at how the restoration of the remaining hedgehogs can be funded, possibly by setting up a GoFundMe page. We know that the hedgehogs have captured the public’s imagination and that many people want to see them restored so hopefully they will come forward with ideas and offers of support."