Monday, 15 August 2011

Happy 25th, Worthing!

Chief Executive, Peter Hepburn, reports as our Worthing & District Branch celebrates its 25th anniversary...

“Sunny Worthing”, it’s called. Certainly when the Cats Protection Worthing & District Branch was celebrating its 25th birthday recently, you couldn’t help but think: “the sun shines upon the righteous.”

I’d guess that some 60 to 70 volunteers came and they would have been in good humour whatever the weather. My overriding impression was of the lovely atmosphere it creates when so many positive people get together. There’s a bit in the CP strategy that says: “Cats Protection wants everyone to celebrate their achievements” and there was a lot of that happening. I heard some amazing stories. I’d love to share them all, but can’t, so I’ll just repeat a cat story for you.

A few weeks ago someone came into the branch’s charity shop and said “I see you are doing cats here now.” We aren’t, of course, but outside someone had left a lovely cat in a carrier. Our volunteers took in the cat and inside the basket was a note along these lines: “My owner has just been made redundant and can no longer afford to keep me and look after me. I hope that you will find me a new home. I’ve been loved and cared for, my vaccinations are up to date and when I had kittens they were all neutered and found good homes.” There were no spaces in the branch that day but, as ever, a space had to be found and the cat was soon homed.

Shortly after the cat arrived at the shop, someone came into the shop and said that they had heard about the cat. They wanted to know if it was alright and what had happened to it. I wonder if a distressed and loving owner’s mind was put at ease. The people who heard this story all said: “If a cat is going to be dumped, there’s nowhere it will get better care than by our people”.

Lots of other stories were shared. I heard about the difficult work running the ‘rescue line’, which volunteers do in rotation for two or three weeks each before passing the load to someone else. I was told about the lovely people you meet when doing collections outside the supermarket, including those who say “I’m a dog person, but here’s a pound” and those who buy cat food and donate it – the supermarket loves that!

Over the years, the press cuttings showed that the branch had weathered some storms, but now it’s in a strong position with lots of good people helping and supporting. I met the founding
Co-ordinators, Ian and Margaret and the current Co-ordinator, Rod. Before we cut the birthday cake, Margaret read out some lines that she had written. I loved the line: “Cats who have left a paw print on my heart.”

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