A MOTHER has launched a project to create a 120-hectare hedgehog reserve in memory of her son who died nearly two years ago aged 14.
Felix Byam Shaw died after contracting meningitis on holiday with family friends in July 2014 and would have turned 16 today.
The Dragon and Eton schoolboy had a passion for hedgehogs and his mother Jane wants the North Oxford community to open up their gardens to create a space the size of two golf courses for them to roam around in.
Mrs Byam Shaw said: "It came to my attention shortly after Felix died that hedgehogs were in pretty dire straits.
"In fact just after he died we had a blind hedgehog wandering around the middle of the garden and it sort of seemed like a call for action.
"They need an area of at least 90 hectares and we want to encourage everyone to connect gardens with gaps in the walls and fences to create a 'green corridor' so they can rove widely to find food, shelter and water."
The Felix Byam Shaw Foundation was set up a year ago today to take on projects that reflected Felix's passions and interests.
Since its launch a sustainable food bank has been set up in West London based on the success of the Oxford Food Bank and the family has turned their attention to hedgehogs as their next major project.
Mrs Byam Shaw said: "Felix loved hedgehogs and he rescued quite a few and took them to Tiggywinkles a rescue centre out towards Thame.
"He had a real passion for nature and wildlife and the project is in memory of him."
An area within the boundaries of the River Cherwell, Marston Ferry Road, Banbury Road and the southern border of University Parks has been identified - and at 118 hectares will be plenty big enough.
According to the family four major institutions on the land - University Parks, Lady Margaret Hall, Wolfson College and The Dragon School have all agreed to make their boundaries more hedgehog-friendly.
The latter, Felix's prep school, will even appoint a student 'hedgehog champion' to lead the school's involvement.
Mrs Byam Shaw said: "I hope it is something that can bring the community together and it will also give us the chance to keep in touch with friends that we perhaps haven't since Felix died."
Ecologist and author Hugh Warwick, who has written several books on hedgehogs said the project could be vital to the prickly mammals' survival.
The East Oxford man said: "There are so many practical things people can do in their own garden - you don't have to drill holes in your walls, that's a last resort.
"I think it's a wonderful project and a great legacy in Felix's name."