9:00am Saturday 29th March 2014
By SNJ Reporter
ACTRESS and author Daphne Neville is holding a garden tea party at her Stroud home to help re-introduce a group of orphaned otters into the wild.
Animal lovers young and old are welcome to attend the spring soiree from 4pm - 6pm on Sunday, March 30, with all the money raised going to the International Otter Survival Fund, which is supporting efforts to rehabilitate the three otters after they were rescued from the River Kennet near Newbury.
Villagers jumped to the otters' rescue after their parents were swept away and presumably drowned during recent heavy flooding in the river.
They are currently being cared for at a welfare centre in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, where staff have been tasked with the challenge of preparing the creatures for life back in their natural habitat.
"The whole thing is a very expensive and lengthy operation," said Daphne, who first became involved with otter welfare in the 1980s when river pollution pushed the species to the brink of extinction in the UK.
"They have to be gradually introduced to fish and meat and when they are ready to be released you have to make sure they have a suitable home and plenty of food to catch."
Daphne, who recently featured alongside Ralph Fiennes in The Invisible Woman, made international headlines when she toured the country in the 1980s and 90s with her hand-reared otter Bee to highlight the animal's plight.
The pair took part in over 1,500 public engagements, appearing on Blue Peter and meeting Royals, the Navy, MPs and a succession of celebrities before Bee's death in 1993.
Their efforts are credited with influencing a change in the law in 1991, restricting what chemicals can be released into Britain's waterways.
Guests attending Daphne's tea party will get to meet her current hand-reared otters, Belinda and Rudi, who met the Queen and Prince Philip alongside David Attenborough in 2012.
Entry is £5 for adults and £3 for children and here will also be cakes, teas and coffee to enjoy and a raffle.
Ample parking is available at the address at Baker's Mill, Frampton Mansell, Nr Stroud, GL6 8JH.
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