We are all stardust – every atom of every molecule that makes up our bodies comes from a dead star (apart from the hydrogen and helium that are the result of solar fusion). It is just that some people have more starry stardust than the rest of us.

As a campaigner I do like to think that our issues should achieve public and political attention on their merits – that the importance of the subjects should be enough. But that is naive. We always need more; we need luck, certainly, but we also need a little bit of the magic that comes with stardust.

And that is what was happening today in Portcullis House in London. This is the building that houses the offices many MPs and their staff, and it is also has the room that saw the launch of a new campaign to help hedgehogs – Amazing Grace. This is the latest part of the work started by Brian May and Anne Brummer’s  Save Me Trust, which has, until now, focussed on badgers and foxes.

I have been campaigning to help hedgehogs for years. Working with the BHPS and PTES we have the very successful Hedgehog Street campaign that now has nearly 40,000 households signed up as Hedgehog Champions. But despite that, it would be a push for us to get hold of a room in the centre of the parliamentary world and pull in a series of MPs of all different political persuasions.

Many were avowedly keen fans of the hedgehog – but it was the chance to see Brian May perform the song Amazing Grace with the wonderful Kerry Ellis.

Brian May and Kerry Ellis

And also a chance to get good publicity being photographed with someone generous with the stardust.

Oliver Colville, Brian May and Kerry Ellis

It was Oliver Colvile (above) who started getting parliamentary attention for the hedgehog. And there was a good show from the Tories. But it was the SNP who were out in force – here are a couple I snapped – Patrick Grady and Patricia Gibson.

Patrick Grady

Patricia Gibson

 

We know who supported this campaign and we know who came to share in the stardust – so lets hope that they live up to the promise they have made to help hedgehogs – and to recognise that we will NOT tolerate the plight of the hedgehogs being used as a weapon with which to beat badgers … as I have written before, this is a complicated ecological relationship.

I almost forgot to add – there was also awesome cake:

Hedgehog Cake

Many thanks to Brian and Kerry and all the wonderful people at Save Me who made this happen – it is lovely to get a sprinkle of that dust too!

On Friday I got a ‘google alert’ (I get my ego massaged (occasionally) by this wonderful device that I have set to my name) telling me I had been mentioned in the Church Times. It was referring to my performance the previous weekend at the Greenbelt festival. I had been concerned about talking to a crowd of evangelical Christians, that is not my usual audience. And at 5 minutes to show time, when I was already plugged in to my ‘Madonna mic’ (that is what the technician’s there called it …), this was my audience:

What the organisers had not told me was that the doors were shut and, as I returned from a breath of fresh air (and a thought about running away) a stream of people flooded into the room … 255 in total (no, I was not bored and counting during my talk, they had someone on the door with a clicker!)

But back to the review, “Warwick believes that any creature can be a gateway to the love of nature. Meeting a bird or animal close at hand, you gain a precious glimpse of wildness. It’s an almost mystical experience…” I really enjoyed Greenbelt and have asked to come back next year … it is not often you get to preach hedgehog (and other lovely animals) to such a crowd.

Next up on Friday I was asked to pen a quick note for Meet the Species – a final component of the amazing project that also manages the Bristol Festival of Nature – The Bristol Natural History Consortium. So here is that piece – and, to my surprise, I found that they published it with a video of me talking at the Wilderness Festival – a spontaneous (and rather noisy) show ably assisted by the remarkable Amalie.

And on Friday I was also asked if I would help Anne Brummer from the Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue with Wildlife Rocks. I had originally been asked to do a hedgehog talk at this event inspired by Brian May (and you can read more about him in my Olympic Blog) – but then she asked if I would step in and do a little compering … now I was given advice by an experienced wildlife/media person … ‘never say no’ … so I said yes, of course, I would love to … Anne was pleased and I put the phone down thinking ‘oh *&^^$&*’ … in less than 24 hours I would have to learn a new skill. Thankfully my neighbour is the absurdly talented Steve Larkin, stand-up poet, musician and compere beyond compare.

As I arrived at Guildford Cathedral I saw Brian May walking with Anne around the stalls. She beckoned me over and asked me to join the small crowd as she wanted to explain a little more of what was planned for the day – turns out I was not to ‘help’ with the compering but to DO IT – oh, and while there would be the usual thanks and welcomings to do, sometimes there would be a bit of time to fill in – as people got themselves set up … and there were around 24 separate events … so, no challenge there then!

Walking with them was Gavin Grant, CEO of the RSPCA. He impressed me enormously, walking straight over to the Hunt Sabs stall and chatting with them – he is obviously not frightened of the more activist sides of the animal world. And then his talk inside was a brilliant attack on many key issues – including the planned culling of badgers and, delightfully, the fact that the RSPCA is not just taking individual huntsmen to court for breaking the law, but also the hunt itself …and the hunt in question just happens to be the one that David Cameron loves to play with, the Heythrop Hunt. And when they win (well, lets hope) they will seek to rehome the horses and hounds, and sell off the buildings.

So my job was to bounce onto stage, say thank you (often to the amazing YEM Youth Theatre) and then chat to the crowd in the Cathedral for up to ten minutes … I think I managed to hold it together, it was a fantastic experience to have to think on my feet so fast – and also to be meeting the artist David Shepherd, Will Travers from the Born Free Foundation and the actor Peter Egans among many other. Perhaps the highlight, though, was rather predictable … when Brian May took to the stage with Kerry Ellis to perform to an absolutely packed cathedral.

I had forgotten about how famous Brian May is … and after the event he was sitting in an outside tent meeting and greeting and the queue was epic. An hour later his ‘people’ said enough was enough (he was looking exhausted) – but he still had time to help me with a publicity shot to help promote The Beauty in the Beast.

What a wonderful day – I really hope that they are able to hold another event next year, and then I might get to see some of what was going on! Though it was a rather fun challenge introducing each guest and trying to get a mention of hedgehogs and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society each time!

And as if that was not all enough, last night Countryfile on BBC 1 showed the piece they filmed with me a couple of weeks ago about Hedgehog Street. I was a little nervous – I was filmed for Blue Peter a while back and they ended up using less than one sentence. But this time it was great, the programme opened with the hedgehog piece and we got to talk about the major concerns we have for hedgehogs as well as the potential solutions.

To add icing to the cake, they also covered Ivan Wright, the solitary bee man from my book!

You can have a look at the programme for the next 6 days on iPlayer: Countryfile hedgehog programme

And because I like an easy life … I am off to the woods with the children now, then dancing and tomorrow – off to a conference all about hedges …