Meet Our Team

Centre Manager - Beni Benstead
Hello, I'm Beni and I have the absolute pleasure of leading Team Tyneside;  I'm blessed to be working alongside such committed, skilled, knowledgeable, friendly and fun people!

I've been with Cats Protection a number of years in various roles across the North of England.  In Merseyside, I helped establish the charity's first Cat Action Team - working with street cats, community cats and ferals through trap, neuter & return (TNR) and finding homes for stray and abandoned cats.  I'm a firm believer in human behaviour change being key to improved cat welfare.  Community engagement is a huge part of that.

I sit on the steering committee of Cats Protection's Pride Network.  As the UK's leading feline welfare charity we treat every cat with kindness and an understanding of their needs - and it's my intention to play an active part in ensuring that same kindness and understanding extends to all humans!  Not just for our LGBT+ colleagues, but everyone.  I want every team member to feel supported and comfortable in bringing their whole, authentic selves to work - where, united by our passion for cats, we celebrate the good days and we lift each other and support each other through the more challenging times.

A confirmed cat worshiper, I have the pleasure of sharing my home with Bill & Ted: two older stripey, dribbly cuddle monkeys who adopted me(!) from Cats Protection Warrington.  Helping cats to find their forever homes and helping humans to find their new furry companions isn't a job, it's a privilege.

Deputy Manager - Kezzie Paxton
Hi, my name is Kezzie and I have always been passionate about animals and cats in purrticular! After doing a BTEC in Animal Management at college, I then went on to study Zoology with Animal Behaviour at Bangor University. After completing the course, I volunteered for a while at my local Blue Cross Rehoming centre with all the cats and dogs there and also at my local Cats Protection branch before getting my first job as a cat care assistant at Ferndown Cats Protection in Dorset.

While at Ferndown I fundraised for the homing centre by running the Bath half marathon in a cat mascot costume and by cycling from London to Paris. I worked there for just short of 2 years before moving back up north to be closer to my family where I started working as a Cat Care Assistant for York Cats Protection. I worked there for just under 2 years before moving to Tyneside Cats Protection. I was then lucky enough to get my dream job as Senior Cat Care Assistant which I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment.

I have a lovely cat called Amber from Cats Protection who is a 13 year old tortoiseshell and white cat. I am currently completing a feline behaviour course through International Cat Care which is keeping me busy alongside running in my spare time.

Senior Cat Care Assistant - Shannon Watkin

Hi, I'm Shannon. I've worked in the animal welfare sector for 5 years now, having worked previously in a veterinary practice. My role here at the centre is looking after reception and making sure all of our cats' records are in order; I always make time for a cuddle with our lovely residents though!

Senior Cat Care Assistant - Helen Lee

I began working in Animal Welfare after bagging my dream job in a dog and cats home in Newcastle, after a complete career change 5 years ago. Although, for a dog and cats home we had all sorts! The first dog I encountered was the sweetest little red terrier who had sadly been abandoned. It was then that I knew, I never wanted to do anything else. I joined the Cats Protection team in 2017.

I love what I do because I love and respect all animals, especially those who are misunderstood and just need the love and patience they deserve. It gives me great pride to be their voice when they need it most. The best thing about this role, is that I get to speak to and recruit like minded people, who all want to give something back to the animals that they love. 

I particularly adore small furries having kept rabbits (and a guinea pig) all my life. I am also the very proud owner of the most beautiful, charismatic, ginger tom cat in the whole world (or maybe he owns me?).

Volunteer Team Leader - Jessica Herron     

Hi there! My name is Jess and my role at Tyneside Adoption Centre is Volunteer Team Leader. I really enjoy meeting and chatting to people from all walks of life, so I'm eager to recruit a dedicated and enthusiastic team of volunteers with different backgrounds who will work closely with staff, to ensure the centre runs smoothly and efficiently, to achieve the common goal of helping as many cats as we can each year!

I have always been an animal lover. I've grown up surrounded by animals of all shapes and sizes so I always knew I would end up working with them! My past experience includes volunteering in a stray cat and dog shelter, working in a dog rehoming centre and in a veterinary referral hospital. I enjoy all of the different personalities of rescue animals and it is very rewarding when an animal you have cared for goes to a loving new home.

As well as doing a job I love, I go home to an ever expanding chaotic household of four dogs, six ferrets, two rabbits and four chickens!

Receptionist - Emma Rogge

Cat Care Assistant - Tracey Baines

Hi my name is Tracey, I am one of the Cat Care Assistants at the Tyneside Adoption Centre.

I previously worked at a Veterinary Practice and also in a wild animal rescue centre in Costa Rica. I currently have 3 rescue cats at home.


Cat Care Assistant - Natalie Marwood
Hello, I'm Natalie. My animal career started with the RSPCA when I volunteered for 6 months at the Great Ayton Animal Centre and then gained a full time position as an Animal Carer which I continued to do for 11 years.

I then worked as a Veterinary Care Assistant and later spent 14 years as a Park Ranger at Stewart Park in Middlesborough where I cared for highland cattle, deer, llama. goats, sheep and various small animals.

I then became a dog care assistant for a dog creche in Stockton before taking my current position here with Cats Protection as a Cat Care Assistant.

Cat Care Assistant - Kev Racey
Kev is one of our hard-working Cat Care Assistants at Tyneside Adoption Centre.   

Cat Care Assistant - David Marshall
David is one of our hard-working Cat Care Assistants at Tyneside Adoption Centre.

We also have a fantastic team of around 50 volunteers who support the team with everything from practical cat care to driving the vans, running events stalls, fostering kittens, keeping on top of the endless laundry, updating our social media pages and generally helping us do what we do for cats all the more efficiently and effectively.  We'd be lost without these wonderful people who so kindly dedicate their free time to help the cats of the North East.