A DESPERATE appeal launched to save Oak and Furrows Wildlife Rescue Centre from closure before Christmas has raised almost £20,000 in its first week.

The cash included £2,750 from an event at the United Church Hall in Cricklade on Saturday, but most came from public donations.

A delighted Robin Thompson, chairman of the trustees, said: "People have been magnificent in so many ways that to say thank you hardly seems adequate.”

The charity, which is expected to treat more than 5,000 animals this year, has been overwhelmed by the costs of treating, feeding and housing its patients at the hospital on Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Blakehill nature reserve.

So far more than 127 hedgehogs have been brought in for treatment and the decision by other rescue centres in the region to close their doors because they are full to capacity, has led to even more creatures arriving.

“Clearly there is some light at the end of a very long financial tunnel, however we are clearly still desperate to at least double in the short term what has been raised so far,” he said.

The target is to raise £50,000 by February.

"Saturday's event was very special with the public being welcomed by our trustees, volunteers and team members", he added.

"Our fund raising is also being boosted by two of our patrons. Pam Ayers is donating £3,000 from her Christmas appearance on Celebrity Mastermind and Daphne Neville, the renowned television presenter, will be helping to secure more funds and supporters at Bishops Walk, Cirencester on December 16 during the morning.

"She will be accompanied by her fantastic otter Rudi, which regular appears at major events across the UK.”

Anyone who wants to help or donate to the appeal can do so through the charity’s website at oandf.co.uk or by calling 01793 751412.