My journey to Our Special Friends

Catherine and Edgar’s Story

I had planned to take a short career break, before looking for a new job.  I had worked/studied for 36 years and was really enjoying ‘downtime’ and dare I say it, being a ‘housewife!’  Rosie, my 13y brown Burmese cat also loved having me at home and liked to observe, from her tower, my increased activity in the kitchen!  We had thought about getting another cat for some time and it seemed sensible to get one before I went back to work and Rosie became too old. At the end of February, we collected a chocolate Burmese kitten and named him, Edgar!  Life was a little chaotic trying to introduce Edgar into Rosie’s routine.  Rosie was a formidable character, had run the household for many years and didn’t take kindly to having Edgar bouncing around the place, as if he belonged!

Then the pandemic struck and everything changed.  Two weeks into lockdown one, there was a knock on the front door and when I opened it and saw my neighbours faces, I knew something terrible had happened.  Rosie had been knocked down, and had been left at the side of the road.  She was put to sleep a few days later – we were distraught.  She had become so entwined in our lives and left a huge gaping, hurting hole.  However, Edgar seemed to take everything in his stride and continued being a boisterous kitten!

In April, I was notified that I needed to shield and after careful consideration thought it would be sensible to ‘stay put’, before looking for a new job. As time trundled by, we thought about getting a new companion for Edgar. I contacted Edgar’s breeder (and Rosie’s) and asked if she knew of any Burmese cats that needed a good home.  She said ‘you can have Edgar’s mother!’  I couldn’t believe it!  Cora, arrived in July.

At first the novelty of being a full-time cat mother and housewife was very enjoyable but as time drifted by, I became increasingly bored!  I thought I would start talking ‘CAT’!  After my first vaccination and whilst on a nearby ‘village walk’, I heard about OSF.  When I got home, I googled the charity to find out more and subsequently submitted an application to volunteer.  

Due to my location, it was easier for me to offer a weekly commitment to help in the office rather than drive long distances to help owners and animals in need.  Bin, spoke to me before I started to explain OSF had recently moved their office to new premises and she wanted ‘to manage my expectations.’ I wondered what was in store for me and remember asking if there was a toilet and running water!  Upon arrival I was so surprised to find myself in a bright, spacious, airy office surrounded by fields and beautiful horses.  Certainly, the most picturesque work setting, I have experienced.  

Bil gave me a very warm reception and asked, almost apologetically, if I would clean out the store cupboard and reorganise its contents. I wanted to help the charity succeed and if that meant cleaning a cupboard, then so be it!  Although, I won’t share with you what I found!  Once the cupboard was sorted, I helped Bin pull together some data for the annual report. I also submitted Edgar’s CV to become an animal assisted activity cat – he passed!  Edgar is a young cat, but he is a pretty chilled, laid-back male.  Our first visit was arranged to see a 97y lady who had lived with cats for most of her life but due to her frailty, she could no longer keep one and she missed as she put it ‘a warm body and beating heart’. Edgar and I were accompanied by Gemma to make sure everything went to plan.  As you can see from the photo below, the visit went remarkably well.  Edgar is now on standby for his next assignment!

OSF helped ease me gently back into a work environment, whilst giving me the opportunity to experience the voluntary sector. This week I started a temporary part time job at the Biomedical Campus, Cambridge.  I am also undertaking a short course at the Institute of Continuing Education, whilst continuing to offer support to OSF. Who knows where all this will lead, but I am enjoying building a portfolio of new and different interests!  I am very grateful for OSF helping me to step out of confinement and start living a more ‘normal life’, once more!