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A 600-mile walking challenge to raise money for cats in need.

Cat champion Gail Cooper has set herself the challenge of walking 600 miles in 2018 in memory of her marvellous moggy Speckles.

“Shortly after losing my cat Betty to old age in 2012, I adopted Speckles through Stamford Cats Protection,” said Gail. “Speckles had been difficult to find a home for and had been with them for over six months as he was FIV positive and unfortunately no one wanted to take him on. He was perfect for me and we gelled together straightaway. Sadly, five years later and at only seven years old he died suddenly of leukaemia. I was devastated and I felt like I wanted to do something in memory of him.”

black cat sunbathing in the garden

Gail is walking in memory of her cat Speckles


In tribute to Speckles, Gail decided to walk 500 miles over the course of 2017 to raise money for Cats Protection’s Stamford Branch, where she volunteers, as well as for the Guide Dogs charity. “I succeeded - just!” said Gail, “So in 2018 I wanted to increase my challenge and take myself outside of my comfort zone. It was a win-win situation, benefitting both myself in the form of exercise and the charities monetary-wise!”

Already over halfway through her challenge, Gail is well on her way to reaching her fundraising target of £500, and has pledged to donate 25p herself for every mile she walks.

She has also been documenting her walking adventure with beautiful photos that she posts on her Instagram page.

woman walking along the Long Mynd in Shropshire

Gail walking along the Long Mynd in Shropshire


“Walking for me has made such a difference to my life, I have found something I really enjoy doing along with reigniting my love of photography and discovering lots of lovely places!

“Two years ago I struggled to walk three miles without getting bored and achy and I certainly couldn’t walk up hills without stopping several times. Today I can feel my fitness levels increase every month and I look for a photo opportunity in every day.

“Even on a cold and grey day I will still go out and find some beauty in my walk, whether that be a glimpse of wildlife or stumbling over a new walking route. It is great for clearing my mind from the stress of the day, breathing in the clear air and listening to the wildlife chattering away as I amble along.

“I’ve grown to love my local country park which is forever changing, there’s always something new to see. I particularly love to see the seasons change and how the different colours have an effect on the landscape."

woman standing at the top of the Wrekin in Shopshire in trekking gear

At the top of the Wrekin in Shopshire


The challenge has even inspired Gail to sign up to a several walking events throughout the year and join some online social groups in search of ideas for new places to visit.

“Walking is free and available to everyone, whether you do a 50 mile trek or a one mile stroll,” said Gail. “There is so much for us to discover and appreciate on our doorstep that we miss while travelling along at 50mph in the car.

“The joy of walking too is that we can choose to walk alone, with a friend or in a group. For me I am happy to either walk on my own or with my partner, who I have roped into joining me, and he loves walking too!”

If you fancy challenging yourself for cats, take on Cats Protection’s Nine Mile Challenge and walk nine miles this September to give cats and kittens their lives back. Whether it’s one big trek or a daily jaunt, your steps will help cats in need get back on their paws. Make like a cat and roam-free!

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