Hamster gets Blue Peter badge after helping owner with lockdown


Treacle the hamster is the latest recipient of a Blue Peter badge – a rarity for animals.

The tiny create has been a huge support for her owner Billy-Jo Howe, who has autism and has struggled to cope with lockdown.

The 20-year-old got her new pet last month following the death of her hamster Georgina, and she says it was ‘love at first sight’.

Billy-Jo credits her furry friend for ‘always putting a smile on her face’ and ‘a reason to wake up in the morning’.

So she decided to nominate her pet earlier this month as a mark of recognition for being her ‘only friend’ during lockdown.

The pair received a letter from the BBC children’s show a week after Billy-Jo wrote in, coupled with a Blue Peter emblem.

The letter read: ‘Dear Treacle The Hamster, we’ve been hearing how much you’ve been helping your owner, Billy-Jo, to cope through the difficult lockdowns by understanding feelings and bringing good cheer.

‘It’s wonderful that you always out a big smile on Billy-Jo’s face, and we can see that you are much-loved and appreciated hamster, so very well done to you.’

It continued: ‘Whilst we’re not able to award you a Blue Peter Badge, we’re thrilled to enclose a very special Blue Peter Emblem which your owner could sew onto a favourite blanket or item of clothing for you!

‘We hope you’ll enjoy wearing your BP Emblem with pride, and keep up all the great work, Treacle!’

Owner Billy-Jo, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said: ‘Treacle has been an absolute God send.

‘She’s helped me with my confidence and gives me a reason to wake up in the morning.

‘Treacle has been a friend to me.

‘Because of my autism I don’t have any friends to go out and play with.’

Billy-Jo has enjoys taking photographs of Treacle and likes to comb her with a special brush.

She added: ‘She’s almost helped me get over the death of my other hamster Georgina which was pretty traumatic.

‘The vet couldn’t save her and I was there when she died in her cage.

‘My letter came from the heart.’

When she received the reply from the show, she said she was ‘absolutely shell-shocked’.

She explained:’I screamed the house down before my dad told me off for being too loud.

‘I took a couple of pictures with Treacle but I didn’t want to make too much of a fuss as I don’t want to scare her.

‘I’m keeping it in a lanyard at the moment to protect it and keep it safe.

‘Once all of this lockdown is over I’m going to go to the coffee shop and show it off with absolute pride!

‘I’m just absolutely chuffed.’

Treacle joins the likes of footballer Marcus Rashford, 23, and climate change activist Greta Thunberg, 18, who were awarded gold Blue Peter badges for their campaigning work on poverty and the environment.

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