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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Jess the cat helped Jean-Louis Button through lockdown, so he’s repaying her kindness by raising funds for cats and humans alike

Jean-Louis Button has set himself the target of cycling 10,000km around the UK coastline before September in order to raise around £2,000 for three charities close to his heart – Cats Protection’s Swansea Branch, The Akshaya Patra Foundation and Water for Kids.

Brunette man with tabby-and-white cat lying on his armJean-Louis with his lockdown companion Jess. Credit: Jean-Louis Button

“I decided on a whim that this summer I wanted to push my physical and mental boundaries for three charities by cycling further than I ever have before to say thank you for the incredible work that they do,” said 28-year-old Jean-Louis. “I chose each charity because they help causes I feel strongly about.

“The Akshaya Patra Foundation does some incredible work to feed people in India, where they need our support more than ever now as the coronavirus wreaks havoc across the nation. It has already served nearly 150 million meals to vulnerable people in India and close to a million meals in the UK since the pandemic began. 

man wearing cycling gear and helmet next to a bike in front of a stone wallJean-Louis and his bike on the Hebridean Way. Credit: Jean-Louis Button

“Water for Kids is currently working on water and sanitation projects in Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. And as someone who has spent a little bit of time in Africa, I would love to help provide one of the fundamental basic needs for survival to as many of our brothers and sisters as I possibly can.

“Finally, I chose Cats Protection because I was personally hit pretty hard with mental health issues during lockdown, along with so many others, and luckily at just the right moment a beautiful feline crept through my door and woke me up with her gentle purr. Over eight or nine weeks we became incredibly close companions for one another and because of the amount of love, happiness and comfort she brought me, I felt the desire to give back and help one of the UK's largest cat welfare charities. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without Jess’s loving company!”

brown tabby-and-white cat lying on sheet with green leaf patternJess came into Jean-Louis' life at just the right time. Credit: Jean-Louis Button

A mature moggie, Jess is thought to be around 18 years old and arrived in Jean-Louis’s life at the end of April. Having been checked by a vet and for a microchip, she is currently in temporary foster care with our volunteer-run Swansea Branch. Jean-Louis knew he was not in a position to adopt her himself because of his trip but that his donation would ensure she and other cats at the Swansea Branch would continue to receive the support they need while in care.

One such kitten currently being helped by the branch is little Button, named after Jean-Louis. The tiny fluffy black kitten is likely to be one of the first to benefit from the funds raised. Believed to be around nine weeks old, he was found in a hedge beside busy North Gower Road. He had a nasty injury to his mouth and needed immediate surgery to repair the wound. It is hoped the cost of the delicate operation, along with the weeks of aftercare to prepare him for life in a loving home of his own, will be covered by Jean-Louis’s donation.

black kitten sitting on wooden floorLittle kitten Button will benefit from Jean-Louis' fundraising 

Having started his adventure on 22 June cycling along the Gower, Jean-Louis’s coastal route takes in beauty-spots including the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the eastern coast passing Newcastle, Skegness and Cromer, the south coast from Kent across to Land’s End, before travelling around Ireland’s shores. He is charting his progress on his Instagram account as he goes.

Jean-Louis is no stranger to fundraising for great causes, having raised around £4,000 since 2017 when he cycled 1,000km across the Netherlands in flip flops to help islanders of Saint Maarten after hurricane Irma. He subsequently ran marathons and ultra-marathons in Wales, cycled the famous John O’Groats to Land’s End route and fundraised with friends while volunteering in Zambia during a harsh heatwave which left many struggling for food.

Man wearing cycling gear and helmet in front of bike and road sign saying 'Scotland welcomes you'Jean-Louis arrives in Scotland. Credit: Jean-Louis Button

Mandy Armstrong, a volunteer with Cats Protection’s Swansea Branch, says: “We were so surprised and delighted that Jean-Louis chose our branch to benefit from his amazing journey. His friendship with Jess is a real tribute to what wonderful companions cats can be and how they enrich our lives in so many ways. We’re enjoying following Jean-Louis’s journey and will be cheering him along as he travels our beautiful coastline.”

To help Jean-Louis raise money for all three charities and donate much-needed funds for cats like Jess and Button visit his fundraising page.

If you would like to take on a sponsored event for Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/challenge to find out about pre-existing challenges or get in touch with Gina in the Events team to set up your own on 01825 741 960 or events@cats.org.uk

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