(Isobel here) I've given Cy Bear the task of presenting this post, because he's such an amazing contributor to both the blog and to the way in which COLDHAMCUDDLIES operates. While co-author here, he is also the Shop Mascot and as such, takes part (when I remember) in the ritual Farewell Ceremonies set up for Cuddlies as they prepare to leave for their Forever Homes. When he's not doing that - he sits guard over the Cuddlies in store whenever I'm not at home. (Not bad for a "reject" - because of sharp limb seams at the start of the Coldham enterprise, is it?)
As befits milestones such as this, we've been reminiscing over the years since https://www.ColdhamCuddliescalling first began publishing about how our COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toys are made, stories about visits I've taken - when tales of the Toys are in short supply - and between us we've decided to highlight two lines we offer - Dressed Rabbits: and the subject of our main charitable enterprise - Hedgehogs. (We have also supported branches of the Royal British Legion and the Royal Canadian Legion in the past - and will do so as and when appropriate conditions are met in future - such as sales to Canadian destinations when they occur!)
(Cy Bear taking over) Starting with Rabbits - we are particularly proud of this one - Jubilee Rabbit -
We want to remind you (as we've reminded ourselves) about what happened in 2012 when Jubilee Rabbit became a slight celebrity among the Cuddlies (if not elsewhere!). She was made specially to represent the Heytesbury Branch of the Ladies Section of the Wiltshire Royal British Legion - and ended up with Isobel being awarded first prize for a "Handmade Toy - Knitted or Material" in the county-wide Handicraft and Produce Competitions. The Heytesbury Ladies often did well in these annual competitions, but in 2012 with Jubilee Rabbit's help, they won 1st Prize for the number of prizes they accumulated - but had to share the Cup awarded that year with another branch who won the same number, but not just in the handicraft sections!
Here's additional evidence of the prize awarded for Isobel's handiwork:
We've not made a duplicate of Jubilee Rabbit - because even though she did so well for everyone, it was a condition of entering the competition, and understood, that after the competition she would be donated to raise funds for the Royal British Legion (who do immensely valuable work supporting disabled ex servicemen and women - and their families). We didn't think it was appropriate for us to make another one exactly like her - especially as she was also made to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen, which was also celebrated that year.
(The nearest equivalent now on sale in our Shop, is Jemima Rabbit - who has been a popular Bunny and found Forever Homes in several place in the UK -
You can see the other Dressed Rabbits on sale in our Shop if you click on this link
When Isobel began publishing and making Friends with all our Followers, in March 2011, we had a modest 25 different Cuddlies on offer - and the blog was started as a way to explain to you all, as well as anyone else interested, how us Cuddlies come into existence and become Handmade Cuddly Toys - suitable for anyone, at any age, no Upper Limits or Genders set! Now we are proud to announce that we have 107 different versions of COLDHAM CUDDLIES, and we also produce Novelty Slippers and Golf Club Covers as well, so it is obviously not possible to tell you about everyone we want to find Forever Homes for. We just happen to have a lot of Rabbits, in various formats, so they were an obvious choice for this particular post.
Over the years, since Isobel first acquired the pattern for our Family of Hedgehogs,
|The current models of our Hedgehog Family|
they too have been very popular COLDHAMCUDDLIES - and have found homes all over the UK, as well as in Alabama and Port Washington, USA to name some overseas destinations too.
In 2015, Isobel became aware of the plight of UK Hedgehogs, who were disappearing at an alarming rate (and still are!). She's always been a lover of these particularly endearing wild animals, so since 2015, we have supported two Hedgehog Rescue Hospitals in the UK and so hope we can help to save these prickly wild folk from complete extinction.
So using the Hedgehog Toys we first started with -
|Original Mummy Hedgehog|
|Original Baby Hedgehog|
|Original Daddy Hedgehog|
Isobel decided to donate 10% of every Hedgehog Toy sold (whether singly, or as a Family) to two Hedgehog Rescue Centres in the UK - so that they can continue with their important work.
One of these hospitals is Tiggywinkles Hedgehog Trust (www.Tiggywinkles.com), who are based in Haddenham, UK which is only about 10 miles from where daughter Philippa lives - so Isobel does try (if the weather is kind, and the crowded schedule permits) to visit that site whenever she can. To begin with, the other selected entity has been West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue, which is based outside Birmingham, in the UK West Midlands - and was the first Hedgehog Hospital Isobel found on the internet, having been alerted to their work by a friend (and Hedgehog customer) - based in Mobile, Alabama!! (Isn't it a small world!). To date, the two hospitals have shared approximately £75.00 each (approximately $98.00 USD).
When we moved from Wiltshire in 2014 (where we had access to the furry fabric our original Hedgehogs were made with), we had to look for alternative supplies for future Hedgehog Toys. Incredibly, we found that the actual manufacturer of the original fabric (now no long produced by them alas) are actually located in the same Town we now live in. Isobel went to see whether they could help us - when the original fabric ran out; They suggested a line they currently produce called "Laughing Owl" and our current Hedgehog Toys now look like this:
|The Hedgehog Family wondering if any food is about, maybe?|
They don't look quite as authentic as did our original Toys, but they are equally as cuddly, and are as popular with our customers as were the brown ones. People who have seen them in their current guise have no trouble in recognising them as Toy Hedgehogs (and Isobel tells me that other Toy Hedgehogs, can come in all sorts of different colours - and be knitted, as well as sewn - and be equally as acceptable as our original ones!).
The above photograph is bang up to date - because it is among several taken just this afternoon in our garden, with this one using an authentic "Hedgehog Igloo" as background - which we've discovered to be unoccupied at the moment. Isobel has recently joined another Hedgehog Rescue site via Facebook (what ever that is!) called Prickles Hedgehog Rescue (https://www.facebook.com/groups/381330938572946) and through that site has actually met two other ladies - who are equally obsessed with Hedgehogs (and have several Prickly visitors each evening - Hedgehogs only come out at night, I've been told) and they meet every two weeks for a cup of coffee and a chat - about Hedgehogs of course, but about lots of other things too! (They have helped Isobel buy the products needed to create a Hedgehog Feeding Station and House, plus food and eating implements - which are shortly to be erected in daughter Clare's garden. GrandsonE - whose recent birthday present from Granma these items were - and Isobel are going to see if they can attract a family of Hedgehogs into these houses. It's never too early to learn how to look after wildlife!).
|We currently have these 2 Daddy Hedgehogs in the Shop.|
The West Midlands hospital is a bit difficult for Isobel to get to without a car, so in the past few days, she's decided that from henceforth, Tiggywinkles will continue to get their share of the 10% of Hedgehog Toy sales in future, and Prickles Hedgehog Rescue receive the other half of the sales price. Prickles is located in Cheddar, Somerset (yes - the same place where Cheddar Cheese originates from) which is only about 25 miles away from where we used to live in Wiltshire.
So, earlier this week, using funds that have built up over recent months in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES bank account (still based in Warminster, Wiltshire, incidentally!) cheques for another £40.00 (approx. $52.40 USD) were posted to both Hospitals.
The donations Isobel collects don't all come just from the 10 percent from sales of the Hedgehog Toys. Customers often qualify for small refunds on shipping overcharges (Isobel likes to calculate those high: then any unannounced increase in postal charges that occur between an order being received and the items being sent off, is covered). Customers are always offered the choice of having the refund directly, or the funds being used towards Hedgehog rescue sites - and many are happy to go with the latter alternative, because they too like these delightful characters and the sums involved don't get more deleted as a result of bank and foreign exchange fees.
|Real Hedgehogs are "in danger" if outside during the day. Our Baby Hedgehog is quite safe though!|
Isobel is going to have to get down to some Baby Hedgehog replacements, because during the photo shoot this afternoon (these are destined for use in our latest listings for these three COLDHAMCUDDLIES) she discovered this model is our ONLY one presently in stock!! Not only is it time for our pictures to get an update, but because Etsy have given their Sellers another five more photo slots to be used in every listing in our Shops, Isobel needed some more up-to-date shots of these little fellows so that their re-listings (due in a couple of weeks' time) will also reflect the current situation for potential Buyers.
|Ooops, that hole isn't big enough for two Daddy Hedghogs at once!|
With 107 separate listings for this to be done, Isobel is now very busy adding extra photographs to ALL our Shop listings. She is finding the 399 posts before this one an extremely valuable resource for finding relevant shots (mainly showing HOW our Toys come to be made - which we feel will be of interest to our potential Customers.).
Time will tell - and I've gone on long enough. However, one doesn't reach 400 posts every day- so I hope you will all forgive Isobel and I.
Until next week then - Your Friend, Cy Bear.
PS: That Hedgehog Igloo is currently unoccupied - and the Resident in whose garden it currently is located has said Isobel can have it for the site up the road, thus giving any potential new Hedgehog residents a choice of accommodation - if and when they appear. Clare is fearful of attracting more Rats to their garden than already appear from time to time. So all concerned have agreed that if that happens, the Hedgehog residence(s) will be re-located, down the hill and 3 doors away, to somewhere near where our flat is located, because we already know there are at least 3 Live Hedgehogs who regularly visit one of our near neighbours. You can see, we're all determined to do our bit for the UK Hedgehog population. Currently these visitors pass through the bit of the garden near our flat and help clear the patios of spilled bird feed - thus ensuring that Rats aren't attracted to our premises! They don't currently stop though: but they might do so, if they find comfortable living premises on offer!! Cy Bear or I will keep you all up-dated - promise!