Hedgehog duo scoop top award at star studded ceremony

Sophie and Kyra with 2018 Love Island star Eyal Booker

Stratford’s selfless hedgehog rescuing schoolgirls Kyra Barboutis and Sophie Smith have scooped another top award.

The duo, both aged 13, picked up the Young Animal Hero of the Year Award at the Mirror Animal Hero Awards ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

Sophie and Kyra, who founded the group Hedgehog Friendly Town, have cared for more than 500 hedgehogs since setting up their own hospital at the age of nine.

Now they have spaces in their sheds and back gardens where they take care of injured hedgehogs and have also enlisted local vets to help with medical support.

Monday’s star-studded awards ceremony, attended by celebrities such as Paul O’Grady, Helen Worth, Ross Kemp, Maura Higgins, Jessica Wright, Martin and Shirley Kemp and Richard Hammond, was hosted by wildlife presenter Steve Backshall, and his wife, athlete Helen Glover.

Sophie said: “We met some incredible people and animals proving here in the UK we really have people that are willing to stand up, work hard and make a difference. It was inspiring and sometimes heart breaking to watch some of the stories.

“The absolute best part of the night though was watching a video message from Simon Cowell to us telling us “If everyone was like you and had your compassion for animals the world would be a better place”.

“He also said he would like to meet us one day and if we need any help he would be there.”

Kyra added: “We met so many famous people including most of the love Island cast and got to cuddle loads of dogs which was just lovely.

“Everyone was just so open and friendly, we have come away with even more determination to keep pushing and making changes for our wildlife.”

Kyra and Sophie with wildlife presenter Steve Backshall

In August Kyra and Sophie were named in the Independent Newspaper’s 2019 Happy List 2019, recognising their kindness and ingenuity.

They also won this year’s RSPCA Young Person of the Year Award in June and have previously been honoured at the Pride of Stratford Awards.

Earlier this year they hit the headlines after persuading housing developer Taylor Wimpey to introduce measures to help wildlife at its Arden Heath site in Stratford.

The girls had raised concerns that hedgehogs and other wildlife may be trapped within hedgerows netted by the developer.