When a Burnley woman found a baby hedgehog in the middle of the road, she feared the worst. Still alive - just - the animal barely had the strength to move, and so she rushed him to a local vet. She was told that they would do all they could, but that they may have to put him down.
"I'm a big animal lover, but I didn't think he'd survive," said Jo Le'Febour of Norfolk Avenue, with the poorly hedgehog struggling to breathe and covered in ticks.
On the off chance that he recovered, Jo was told by vets at Oakmount Veterinary Centre in the town that the hedgehog would be sent to a wildlife rescue centre to regain strength. "I didn't hear anything, so I assumed he must have gone to hedgehog heaven," she added.
But then, weeks later, Jo got a phone call.
"I had a surprise phone call from the rescue centre who said he was now healthy, big and strong, and ready to be released back into the wild!" said Jo, with her spiky friend having made a miraculous recovery at RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, who asked Jo if she'd be willing to take him back and provide shelter and food as he acclimatised to living in the wild again.
And there was a second surprise as well.
"They also asked if he could bring a friend!" explained Jo, with her once-tiny rescue hedgehog having made a pal whilst in Nantwich. "Of course I was thrilled and was happy to take them both in: when I first rescued him, he was teeny tiny, now he's come back and he's four-times the size!"
Ever since the RSPCA dropped the hedgehog buddies off in Burnley, Jo and her two children - Mia and Noah - have welcomed the pair with open arms, naming the original rescue hedgehog Gulliver (given the travels he's been on) and his new friend Spike, as well as building them little nests and feeding them cat food before releasing them at dusk every evening.
"[It's] amazing that there are such kind people helping our wildlife friends," said Jo of the RSPCA. "I've created them a shelter and the food is always gone, but I'm not sure if the cats are eating the food or the hedgehogs!"
Eventually, Gulliver and Spike will fly the nest and go to live full-time in the wild again, but Jo is just pleased that she could help. "Apparently there's a real shortage of hedgehogs, so they'll go off and find their habitat," she said.