A wildlife rescuer from Rushden is to receive a special award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) for his work in protecting British foxes.
Martin Hemmington, 51, has been running the National Fox Welfare Society for more than 20 years.
The Northants-based organisation is dedicated to rescuing sick and injured foxes across the UK, and Martin co-ordinates a network of volunteers across the country.
The group helps foxes in various ways, including rescuing sick and injured foxes, finding foster families and sanctuary for abandoned and orphaned fox cubs, finding safe release sites for rehabilitated foxes and providing advice and treatment for foxes with sarcoptic mange.
Martin has always had a love of dogs and their wild ancestors wolves.
He felt that Britain’s native wild red foxes were just as fascinating, and after studying them for many years the book he wanted to help with his studies wasn’t available, so he decided to write his own book entitled Foxwatching: In the Shadow of the Fox.
Martin’s dedication to foxes has led to thousands of rescues over the past 20 yearsPhilip Mansbridge
Martin started a local fox welfare society, including taking people out fox-watching and teaching them about the species.
He then started getting calls from people who wanted help dealing with injured foxes so he started connecting people around the country to create a network of volunteers.
The group’s aim is to get every fox that is brought into its care back into the wild, but they will always provide sanctuary for the ones that wouldn’t survive but can cope well in captivity.
Martin raises money through supporter donations and a membership scheme.
He says in one week they can spend up to £1,000 on vet fees and they can send out up to 700 free bottles of mange treatment in one month, all at their own cost.
Martin said: “It is a lovely feeling to have been nominated for the IFAW Animal Action Award, but I’m accepting it on behalf of everybody that helps out - not just for myself.
“The volunteers are amazing – people are prepared to just drop everything and help when they get a call about a fox in need.
“There isn’t always a happy ending, but at least someone tried to help, and that fox was rescued and not left to die at the side of the road.”
Philip Mansbridge, UK director of IFAW, said: “Martin’s dedication to foxes has led to thousands of rescues over the past 20 years and he is a great example of how to bring people together and reach out to our British wildlife.
“Most of the foxes that come into the network are released back into the wild, which is the result we all want to see.
“Martin is a very deserving winner of the IFAW Animal Action Award for Fox Welfare.”
Also set to be recognised at the event are Roy and Annie Marriott from Animals In Need.
Roy, 66, founded the charity dedicated to rescuing sick, injured, trapped and distressed wild and domestic animals in Northamptonshire 25 years ago.
The charity provides veterinary treatment, cares for animals and rehabilitates them until they can be released back into the wild or re-homed.
Annie, 45, met Roy when she signed up to volunteer with the charity 17 years ago, and she and Roy ended up spending all their time together doing animal rescues at all times of the day and night.
Annie said: “Even though there is quite an age gap we really are soulmates. It’s funny, we tend to say the same things at the same time and have the same ideas and ethics.
“When we do a rescue no words need to be exchanged, we just work together so well.”
Up until eight years ago Roy and Annie ran the rescue centre from their semi-detached house in Northampton, but then a supporter left the charity a legacy which enabled them to buy Pinetree Farm in Little Irchester.
Mr Mansbridge from IFAW said: “Annie and Roy’s dedication has seen them rescue thousands of animals over the years and they are a great example of animal welfare in action.
“They are both very deserving winners of IFAW’s Animal Action Award for Animal Rescue.”
Annie said: “We are truly honoured to receive the award from IFAW, an organisation well known for its great work helping animals.
“I am also slightly embarrassed as I am only doing what I believe I was put on this planet to do, which is of course to save animals.
“I am blessed to have an amazing team of volunteers and supporters and we could not do this job without them.
“Roy and I accept the award on behalf of the whole Animals In Need team who make it possible.”
All three will receive their awards at IFAW’s Animal Action Awards event presented by TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie at the House of Lords on Tuesday, October 20.