Pauline Beach, a neutering officer at Cats Protection’s Swale Branch, will take on the UK’s highest freefall abseil challenge at the 80m high ArcelorMittal Orbit structure in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Pauline, of Istead Rise, Gravesend, explained her motivation for taking on the fundraising challenge: “I am doing it to challenge myself, almost as much as my drive to raise cash for cats. I did a wing walk for Cats Protection two years ago and I abseiled down the side of buildings about 15 years ago, but only with my feet touching the building - not dangling in free air from such a great height as this one.
“I also walked down the outside of a building once facing forwards but I won’t be doing that ever again.”
Even such a dare-doer as Pauline is going to feel anxious about taking on a new challenge. She said: “Standing on the edge of any platform scares me, so this will be a massive challenge for me and I am feeling more and more nervous as the date approaches.
“I haven't done any training for this other than to try and build up my arm muscles a bit as I know lifting 80 metres of rope will be tough for someone of my age. But I am willing to terrify myself to raise funds to continue the fantastic work branch volunteers do for the local cat and kitten population.”
Being an animal lover led Pauline to become a veterinary nurse and she has volunteered at Cats Protection for nearly three years, first at the Bredhurst Adoption Centre and now at the charity’s volunteer-led Swale Branch.
Pauline’s fundraising efforts will help cats like Phantom, a stray who was brought into Cats Protection’s care in June after being found on the roof of a bank in Sheerness. Phantom developed health issues and infections but, thanks to expensive vet care and support from the charity’s volunteers, he came through and has now gone to his forever home.
Swale Branch volunteers were alerted to a cat that was limping and lethargic so Kym, Welfare Team Lead, went to investigate and took him to a vet, where x-rays showed badly healed fractures, a callus and infection to two legs. Phantom was admitted to emergency vets while a decision was made about amputating his back leg.
Pauline said: “Thankfully, his story had a happy ending after all; Phantom recovered from the infection, an amputation was not required and he was able to go to his forever home.
“Care of this level isn’t cheap and Phantom’s vet bill came to just over £1,500, which was paid for with money raised from volunteer and supporter fundraising challenges such as this one. The efforts of volunteers like Pauline are so important to the work we do. They keep us going.
“By donating any amount, no matter how small, will give me the support and encouragement to stand on that platform and complete the abseil.
“It’s a charity close to my heart and the number of cats in need is only increasing. Our volunteer fosterers are doing the best they can but we are at capacity and waiting lists are stretched. Rest assured, money raised is desperately needed to pay for food, equipment and vet bills.”
As well as raising money for Cats Protection, Pauline volunteers and fundraises for Chicken Rescue UK, a small chicken rescue group run by volunteers, who rehome ex-commercial hens instead of them going to slaughter. She will be doing the abseil to raise money for both charities.