A former lorry driver rescued so many wild animals that he decided to open a dedicated rescue centre to free up space at his home.

Chris Wicks has been running his wildlife rescue service for three years, looking after injured or orphaned animals, including owls, foxes and bats.

But he had been operating from his garden shed until October, when he moved the animals under his care to a barn in Stockers Farm, Rickmansworth.

The former London Zoo volunteer from Heston said he always studied animals and has worked at Wildlife Aid in Leatherhead.

He launched his wildlife rescue service after realising there was not much help for wild species in the area.

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Chris Wicks with Willow the barn owl. Photo: Chris Wicks.

He said: “I set up a website to see what the general interest was. From there I got the odd phone call about pigeons or hedgehogs.

“I would bring them back to my home and make sure they’re okay. I remember one hedgehog mother ran away because of a garden strimmer and left four tiny new-born babies.

“From then on I was hooked, and we just grew and grew, and I needed to find a new place that is when I got a call about the farm."

He recalled saving a crying baby fox after her mum died from poisoning.

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A young hoglet. Credit: Chris Wicks.

Mr Wicks said he received a phone call from Hounslow police station last year and was told that a baby fox was found outside the building with her dead mother.

He said: “The mother ate poison and the little cub was crying. They said it was breaking their hearts.

“I found the cub. It could only have been more than two weeks old. I took her home to keep her warm and she ended up becoming part of the family for 12 weeks.

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A fox cub. Photo: Chris Wicks

“She was laying on the sofa with our cats and we eventually released her back into the wild.

"She was last seen running around with another cub fox in the area.”

Mr Wicks added: “The big charities are wonderful with domestic animals like cats and dogs but they haven’t got the staff to look after wildlife.

“Every area should have its own wildlife rescue, we get calls from as Kingston and Hampshire asking us what to do when they’ve found an injured animal.”

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One of the owls looked after at the rescue. Photo: Chris Wicks.

He wants to work with schools to teach them about how to spot wildlife and how to take care of animals.

He said his main goal is to educate the public and have a widespread network of rescue groups like his own.

He added: “I think it's vital we teach children. Especially the way things are going, we’re losing our wildlife at a terrifying rate.

“Wildlife was so common when I was a kid but because of the way were taking away land it could wipe out these animals."

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Hedgehog. Photo: Chris Wicks

Mr Wicks gives advice over the phone but offers to look after them if the injured animal can be brought in.

They use simple first aid if they need it and try to rehabilitate the animal. Any serious injuries such as broken limbs are then taken to the vet.

If the animals can be released, volunteers try to let them go in the territory they were found in. They also make sure there are no predators, they have a food supply and shelter.

He said: “Letting go of one of the animal does tug at you. The day you stop feeling emotional is the day you wouldn’t be good at this job.

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A fox that was rescued by Mr Wicks. Photo: Chris Wicks

“You may have a tear in your eye but then you realise that is what it is all about.”

The group is completely reliant on donations as they have no other form of income but Mr Wicks was pleased to see the generosity of people in the area.

He said: “People in Rickmansworth have really taken this into their heart and have been donating items including dog food and blankets.

“We have a team of ladies who are knitting newborn baby hats which we use as nests for baby birds.”

To donate, go to: cwwildliferescue.com