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Charity volunteer saved by a whisker thanks to her love of cats

11 April 2018
Charity volunteer saved by a whisker thanks to her love of cats

A 45-year-old cat lover who was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood clotting condition after feeling unwell while running a marathon has overcome her illness to continue her quest to help unwanted cats.

Emma Challis, from Shepton Mallet, Somerset, is a volunteer fosterer for Cats Protection who has suffered numerous health conditions over the years while still managing to complete marathons in aid of the charity.

And this year will see Emma compete in her 66th marathon in Brighton on 15 April while caring for her 66th foster cat – an achievement of which she is rightfully proud.

“I feel very lucky because many people with blood clots don’t get any warning – in a quarter of cases the very first symptom is death,” explained Emma. “I’d been suffering from the condition for around 15 years before it was diagnosed and it was only when I felt unwell while running the Taunton marathon in 2016 that I decided I had to go to hospital. There they broke the news to me that I had multiple prominent clots in my lungs.”

Thankfully, following treatment, Emma has recovered and been able to resume her running, preparing to take part in the Taunton marathon again this year. Running has a beneficial effect on her health as the level of activity she undertakes is good for preventing blood clots, according to her specialist.

However, this was not the first health condition that threatened Emma’s passion for marathons, having had to overcome spinal damage from a car accident in 1997 and also a fractured pelvis from falling down the stairs in 2007. She did this by gradually starting with short distances, which she found was a great way to strengthen her muscles, before moving onto long distances a few years later.

Previously a vet nurse and now a mobile beautician, Emma joined Cats Protection’s Glastonbury and Wells Branch as a volunteer fosterer in 2010, and since then has looked after over 60 cats and kittens in need until new homes can be found for them.

Last year alone, the amount Emma raised in sponsorship from her runs, plus adoption fees for cats she rehomed, totalled over £1,000.

Emma has two cats of her own, a tabby and white female called Diddy Kitty and a black female called Isis, both of whom are rescue cats.

She said: “I absolutely adore cats, they’re just beautiful creatures. I love helping animals in need and it’s amazing to see how a little TLC goes a long way.”

To support Emma’s fundraising efforts visit: www.justgiving.com/Emma-Jane4

Anyone interested in taking part in an event for Cats Protection can visit: www.cats.org.uk/running, email events@cats.org.ukor call 01825 741 960.

To find volunteering opportunities in your area visit: www.cats.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/find-an-opportunity

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For further information or an interview, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office on 01825 741 911, at media.office@cats.org.uk, or @CPMediaTeam on Twitter.

Notes to Editors: 

  1. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 190,000 cats each year through its national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.
  2. Cats Protection’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.
  3. Cats Protection’s registered charity number is 203644 (England and Wales) and SC037711 (Scotland). Founded as the Cats Protection League in 1927, the charity adopted the name Cats Protection in 1998. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity in all published material.
  4. More information about the work of Cats Protection can be found at www.cats.org.uk