Dame Judi Dench opens updated wildlife hospital

Dame Judi
Dame Judi said it was important to champion wildlife [BBC]

A new wildlife hospital building has been opened by Dame Judi Dench.

The actress, who featured in a fundraising film for the new facility in 2020, opened the new building at Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital, in Newton Tony, near Salisbury, on Sunday.

The new facility will replace its existing building, which needs renovation.

Dame Judi said she wanted to support the charity after seeing the work "so many" volunteers did during a visit "a couple of years ago".

Dame Judi opening the new facility in Wiltshire
Dame Judi opened the new facility in Wiltshire on Sunday [BBC]

Opened by Mike Korkis and Marilyn Bowes Korkis over 30 years ago, Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital is a registered charity that relies on public donations and volunteer support.

The service, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, provides care for more than 4,000 injured, orphaned or displaced animals a year.

Speaking about her last visit, Dame Judi said the old building was "just a shed" and she had "never seen one like it".

"There were hedgehogs stacked from floor to ceiling, every animal you could imagine," she added.

Dame Judi, who said she had "always had animals in" her family, said she also wanted to support the charity because of her love of animals.

"What better thing to be associated with," she added.

Dame Judi holding an owl during the fundraising film
Dame Judi took part in a fundraising film for the charity in 2020 [Claire Spelling/Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital]

Dame Judi said she was "very concerned" about the state of nature in the country, particularly "the cutting down of trees" and had grown as many trees in her garden as possible to shelter animals.

"Without trees, without hedgerows, we're not going to have those animals," she said.

When asked about why she champions causes like the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital, Dame Judi said: "I think it's important for anyone who has a passion for it to champion."

Dame Judi said the charity "wouldn't be here" without the help of the volunteers "who care".

Hedgehog at Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital
The service, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides care for more than 4,000 injured, orphaned or displaced animals a year [BBC]

Ms Bowes Korkis said the new building was funded by donations, including a legacy left in someone's will.

"It brings a tear to the eye," she said.

She said up until now, the team had been working in "not good conditions", so they were "incredibly lucky" to finally have a new home.

Ms Bowes Korkis said it was amazing to see the charity, which "started in Mike's house, in a room with a few hedgehogs", grow.

Ms Bowes Korkis thanked Dame Judi, who she described as a "special lady" and a "British icon", for her support.

Mr Korkis said they were "bowled over" when Dame Judi agreed to support their fundraising campaign.

Hedgehog with worker at Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital
The charity has been running for over 30 years [BBC]

Maria Dunn began volunteering at the charity after retiring from her job on medical grounds.

"It gave me a reason to get out of the house," she said.

On Dame Judi's visit, Ms Dunn said it was "really exciting" and said she was a "key element" in being able to raise enough money for the new building.

She said: "She was the one that gave us the publicity to be able to fundraise the money for this."

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