Archie, a red squirrel kitten, is just one reason why there is hope for the future of the much-loved animals in Cumbria.

He was found badly injured in a Cumbrian forest has been lovingly brought back to health before being released back into the wild.

Archie was a six or seven week old ball of fluff when he was discovered bashed up and bloodied by a family staying at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs.

They handed him over to the Parc red squirrel ranger Jerry Moss and after the youngster has been examined by a vet and given antibiotics and pain relief, Jerry and his partner Sarah McNeil spent weeks nursing him back to health.

Jerry explained: "We think the squirrel was around six or seven weeks old when he was found.

"It seemed from his injuries that the kitten had fallen from his drey [nest] or a branch and hit his head and nose.

"My partner Sarah and I have hand reared more than 20 red squirrel kittens over the years, so we took him in and named him Archie,” said Jerry.

Jerry hand-fed the kit replacement milk formula through a plastic syringe and, for the first few days.

He and Sarah, a volunteer for Penrith and District Red Squirrel Group, kept him warm and snug using heat pads and even a fleece hat in a hamster cage.

Once he became more mobile they moved him to a larger cage and, a week later, Jerry moved him outside into a large pen in the garden fitted with feeders, nest boxes, branches, moss and woodland materials,to help the young squirrel to gain confidence and learn to explore.

After seven weeks in the care of Jerry and Sarah, Archie was ready for his return to the woodland.

The couple found an area where there are a good number of red squirrels and let Archie go outside in his own time.

Since his reintroduction into the forest back in June, Jerry and Sarah have monitored their trail cameras and can see that Archie is doing well and mixing with fellow red squirrels.

Center Parcs have also kept the family who first found Archie updated on his progress with pictures and thanked them for acting so quickly.

The leisure park has released details of Archie's rehabilitation to mark Red Squirrel Awareness Week this week.

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest is in Cumbria, one of the most highly populated areas for red squirrels in the UK and is one of a few remaining red squirrel strongholds, providing a haven for the native species.

Jerry has worked at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest as the Red Squirrel Ranger for 16 years.

This means patrolling the park and a 5km buffer zone around Whinfell Forest, monitoring the creatures and being an emergency carer when needed.

Jerry said: “Hand rearing kittens is a very demanding job, as they need to be fed little and often - every two to three hours.

"But it is the most rewarding job when, having looked after them, we get to watch as they are returned to the forest.

"It’s a privilege to help the red squirrels and educate others about the species, which is why my role is so important at Center Parcs and beyond.

"We encourage guests to let us know if they see any red squirrels in trouble and to report if they spot any grey squirrels in the area, as they pose a risk of squirrel pox, which can be deadly to the red squirrels.”

he latest survey of red squirrels across the north of England has reported a rise in the number of animals spotted across northern England.

More than 170 people were involved in the annual monitoring programme by Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) which involved a mix of trail cameras, feeders in gardens and walks through forests to record squirrels spotted.

Data was also gathered from sightings reported by the public, RSNE staff and records submitted by local squirrel groups.

Results were positive overall, with red squirrels recorded in 43% of sites - a 1% rise on last year’s result. Grey squirrels were found in 46% of sites, down 2% compared to 2018.

The surveys took place between March and May in ‘red squirrel counties’ across northern England, where wild red squirrels can still be found, including Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, North Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside and parts of County Durham.