A 'HEDGEHOG hospital' at an animal rescue centre has been destroyed by Storm Ciara.

Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue in Didcot is picking up the pieces today after the powerful storm tore through the county yesterday.

It had to evacuate its population of hedgehogs into emergency accommodation with volunteers, and has now launched a fundraiser to rebuild the unit.

ALSO READ: Storm Ciara - Latest on road closures and disruption

The centre's founder Luke Waclawek, writing on Facebook yesterday, said: "Storm [Ciara] has deemed our hedgehog hospital unstable and totally unsafe to use. 

"In the mass of destruction we have lost several vital pieces of equipment and very much possibly the building itself.

"At this moment in time we are unfortunately unable to take in anymore hedgehogs until we can establish or fix the new hospital and replace all broken equipment lost in the mess.

"This is a very bitter blow for us all here as the hospital was nearing completion and we were ready to move to our bigger location with funding saved up - this may now have to put back."

  • Find the fundraising page here

Last year the rescue centre, which also cares for other animals such as birds and deer, launched a fundraising campaign to create the dedicated hedgehog unit.

READ AGAIN: Rescue centre wants help to create a hedgehog hospital

The plan now is either to rebuild the unit where it was, or to put the donations towards the cost of the more permanent hedgehog facility that the centre had planned to open later this year.

In an emotional video posted on Facebook, Mr Waclawek said: "It's not just the structural damage - we have lost the ICU (intensive care unit), which we had literally just bought, and the microscope and cages, they are just beyond repair. The electrics are knackered.

"We've put countless hours, days, months and years into this - for nothing."

He said there was 'terror in the eyes' of the animals as the storm hit, and his team desperately tried to get them to safety.

He added: "I had a barn owl tucked under my arm with a hedgehog in the other, to just get them the hell out of there.

"It was just mayhem."

Hog's Haven in Wallingford has helped to accommodate some of the homeless hedgehogs, as have various volunteers in the area.

The county saw winds of up to 60mph and heavy rain downpours, with more than 150 trees crashing down and blocking various roads.

Gusts were so strong that the roof of a house in Bicester blew off - read more here - and a crane in Oxford was seen spinning above a building site.