NATURALIST, conservationist, TV presenter and all-round wildlife expert Chris Packham has become a patron of HART Wildlife Rescue.

The charity, which is based in Medstead, treated more than 3,000 animals last year.

HART provides a rescue, treatment and rehabilitation service for wildlife from all over Hampshire and the surrounding counties.

It also offers advice to vets, the RSPCA and members of the public from all over the country, as well as providing talks and work experience opportunities for students.

The charity is run entirely on donations.

Without HART’s help, many injured, sick or abandoned wild animals would suffer long and painful deaths, or would be put to sleep.

More than half the animals treated by its experts make a full recovery and are returned to the wild.

Hart was founded in early 1996 by June and Bob Gibbs at their home in Overton as a result of a request from an RSPCA officer to overwinter some hedgehogs at Dellands, Overton.

Originally known as the Hampshire Animal Rescue Team, the service HART offers has constantly needed to change and grow as more and more casualties were brought to them.

In June 2010 the charity moved to new rented premises near Medstead which offered excellent modern treatment and rehabilitation facilities.

It has a shop in Alton to help raise much-needed funds.

Mr Packham, who lives in Hampshire, said: “HART Wildlife Rescue undoubtedly plays a key role in protecting the region’s native species.

“I am delighted to be supporting them and wish them every success in their 25th anniversary year.”

“I am pleased to have been asked to become a patron and help support their very important work.”

More information about the charity is available on its Facebook page, or on its website