WORRYING news in The Independent that hedgehog sightings have fallen again.

According to the annual survey by BBC Gardener's World Magazine, 57 per cent of people responding to the survey said they had not seen any hedgehogs during the whole of 2017 compared to 51 per cent for 2016 and 48 per cent for 2015.

Only nine per cent of people reported seeing hedgehogs in their gardens regularly, down from 12 per cent in 2016.

Apparently sales of maypoles and the number of morris dancing teams is on the increase in the UK.

The Guardian reports on the rebirth of interest in traditional May Day activities.

Melanie Barber, president of the Morris Federation, which represents about two-thirds of the 13,000 morris dancers in the UK, commented: “It’s probably a farming tradition, dancing as the sun rises then going off and having a good breakfast. We have more teams joining – a few stop, but on balance numbers are going up.”

Mike Ruff, who teaches maypole dancing, added: “I never thought that I’d make my living from maypole dancing but there’s definitely a good steady growth in interest.”

People have danced around maypoles for centuries, but the formal dances involving 12 or 24 people braiding ribbons around the pole was the invention of Victorian art critic John Ruskin, says The Guardian.

Ronald Hutton, professor of history at Bristol University, and a leading authority on British folklore, talking about May Day celebrations, said: “It was the English version of the feast which opened the summer season, across northern Europe: when the grass was growing again and so livestock could be put into the outfields or summer pastures, which often involved a lot of movement. In agrarian societies, the crops had all been sown and were sprouting, and a break could be taken before the weeding really began.”

It may have taken a long time but the Daily Mirror reports that a British soldier's First World War medal has finally been reunited with his family.

Gunner Arthur George Hammond fought with the 61st Division and died on the Western Front in 1917, his family later receiving the Freedom Medal, given to soldiers killed in the conflict.

They lost it and gave up all hope of ever seeing it again but schoolboy Mike Iacovelli found it in his garden in Worcester while digging a veg patch in the 1980s.

He packed away the gong and forgot about it after emigrating to Canada but after showing it to his sons Mike, now 38 and living in Toronto, became determined to find Arthur’s family.

He posted a message on a Worcester Facebook group appealing for help and got message from Arthur’s great-granddaughter Debbie Evans from Boston in the United States.

Debbie said: “It means an awful lot to have the medal back in the family and I am extremely grateful to Mike for keeping it safe.”

The medal is now back with granddaughter Carol who lives just 300 yards from where Mike found it in Worcester.

You never know...a 58 year old woman from Bromley in Kent, has discovered that the ring she bought in a charity shop for £5, thinking it was a piece of costume jewellery, turned out to feature a 2.30 carat diamond and could fetch as much as £8,000 at auction.

A Daily Express article explains that the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, took the ring along to a free antiques valuation event held by Hansons London in Keston near Biggin Hill.

Valuer Sonia Jackson,said: “I told her it was a real diamond and she was amazed. She'd had the ring for months and thought it was costume jewellery with a fake stone.”

Up as a contender for the world's biggest prize for museums is the tiny Postal Museum in London which opened last summer.

The Guardian reports that visitors are drawn to the museum by the opportunity to ride on the Mail Rail, the mothballed underground network that carried post to sorting offices between Paddington and Liverpool Street stations.

It will compete against Tate St Ives, Glasgow Women’s Library, Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery, and Brooklands motor and aviation museum in Weybridge.

Simon Opie, director of the Postal Museum, said: “Opening up Mail Rail to the public is the thing that has really captured the imagination of all of our visitors. It was the opening of something most people did not know existed.”

The Independent hails hero Jack Bennett who swam across a canal in Walsden, West Yorkshire after spotting a cat trapped on a wooden pole, with no means of escape.

He commented: “My dad was walking our husky, Tomsky, in the morning and he gave me a call to get out of bed and help him save this cat stuck on a pole across the canal.

“People passing by commented about how strange it was, but no-one wanted to do anything about it.”

Jack placed the cat over his shoulder and swam across the canal using only one arm. The cat was unharmed in the process. 

“She was super friendly considering everything,” he added.

Reference list:

The Express (www.express.co.uk)

The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)

The Independent (www.independent.co.uk)

Daily Mirror (www.mirror.co.uk)