Taking pride in our unsung heroes

POSTED BY Sandi Wilson ON May 14 2014.

From NZ Herald Article - Monday May 12, 2014

Nominations are now open for the inaugural Pride of New Zealand Awards, celebrating the Kiwis who make us proud. Jamie Morton meets a few of the nominees so far.

Yvonne Brown of Cats in Need. Photo / Richard Robinson

Yvonne Brown

Environment category: First there was one abandoned feline. Then two.

Now the tally is more than 12,000 - and still running.

Given the number of homeless cats that Yvonne Brown has saved, it's easy to see why Mangere care worker is seen somewhat as an unsung heroine.

Ms Brown, who runs a backyard cattery called Cats'n'Jammas, founded the Cats In Need Trust in 2003, with a mission to rescue unwanted, abandoned or abused cats and kittens.

She said its inspiration came in the shabby form of a long haired tabby named Sammy, his right eye a mess from the cigarette butt that had been pushed into it.

After Sammy was brought to her, she had him neutered and searched for a new owner, but no one would take him.

She came to love him, and by the time he died in a fire eight and half years later, his legacy was already seeing fellow felines from around the city being taken in.

Today, there are around 100 cats in Ms Brown's cattery, all in need of a home.

While not cuddling the mass of furry friends she has surrounded herself with, she is working for Presbyterian Support, "going in and out of peoples' houses, putting them to bed".

She admits that not everyone could manage her gruelling workload, where there's little time to rest.

"Stark raving mad is what you have to be," she said with a laugh.

"You'd have to have rocks in your head."

Despite her hard work, was "gob-smacked" to have been nominated for the Pride of New Zealand Award.

"It's a thankless job - the only thanks you get is when you see a little kitty going off that you've hand-reared, or one that's come from the jaws of death," she said.

"You stand there crying while the people go off with it, and you think, my God I am soft."

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