Cats shelter in Sheffield steps up security after fire nearly ends in tragedy
When a cat charity in Sheffield which rescues some 400 moggies each year was set alight, one supporter decided to fight fire with fire.
The Sheffield Cats Shelter was horrified when someone set fire to bushes in front of its Broomhall premises.
Thankfully, a neighbour quickly raised the alarm and firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before serious damage could be done.
But despite disaster being averted on this occasion, the scare highlighted the need to step up security at the site, where drug users often gather.
The 120-year-old charity, which relies entirely on donations, set out to raise Â£2,100 to pay for gates and railings to protect the centre and its furry inhabitants.
A public appeal took the shelter past the half-way mark, before supporter Phil 'the cat man' Elsey stepped in.
He braved the coals at the Steel City Firewalk on October 31, raising just over Â£1,000.
Christine Goddard, who is a trustee at the charity, said: "Phil is a great supporter of the shelter. He and his wife Donna not only foster numerous cats for us, they are also brilliant fundraisers. To literally walk on fire to help us help cats is an astonishing achievement."
Although the charity now has enough money for gates and railings, it wants to raise a further Â£2,000 for a CCTV system.
It is not known whether the fire in September was deliberately started or an accident, but either way the shelter is determined to ensure there is no repeat.
"If it hadn't been for the quick thinking of a kind neighbour, and rapid response by the Fire Service, something terrible could have happened," said Josie Walker, the charity's manager.
"We have a bin area next to our garden, that isn’t overlooked, and staff regularly find used syringes and drug paraphernalia in the area.
"The garden area is still vulnerable, and we would really like to install CCTV so we are immediately alerted to any problems."
As well as rescuing and rehousing neglected and abandoned cats, the charity supports pet owners and promotes neutering to prevent more strays being born.
* To donate, and to find out more about the charity's work, visit www.thesheffieldcatsshelter.org.uk.