Newmarket Rotary raised over £7,000 in September at their charity night in aid of dementia and to buy 'Therapy' cats to distribute in the community. These cats are 'robotic' and move, purr and meow when stroked. They afford great amusement and comfort to the elderly and those who are socially isolated. We have taken delivery of 32 cats so far and are distributing them in the Newmarket area.
We recently donated two robotic cats to Our Special Friends for use by their clients. They said that “Sometimes having a real feline special friend is not possible and we are delighted to have the opportunity to offer these to appropriate people in those situations.”
Two robotic cats have been donated to Brampton Manor Care Home, who sponsored our charity night in September.
Their admissions manager said " Although the cats are developed for people living with dementia, ALL our residents enjoyed spending time with them as they are so realistic and bring back fond memories, most of all it simply brings joy to everyone, staff included. We want to re-iterate the need for more tools and services that support people living with dementia in the UK and you and Newmarket Rotary should be very proud of your efforts and the impact these cuddly cats do have on people’s wellbeing especially at this time of year, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect."
Newmarket Day Centre
The first two Robotic cats to the Newmarket Day Centre and, in conjunction with West Suffolk Council, Newmarket Primary Care Network and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, we will be finding worthy and deserving homes for the robotic cats over the coming months.
We have also presented to The Newmarket Locality Meeting. We explained our great success at raising money for dementia and Robotic cats to support those living with dementia. We engaged with a super audience from all the local public health, primary care, and social care organisations who we hope will nominate those who would benefit from a donated therapy cat. Thanks to Will Wright at West Suffolk for inviting us.
It has long been recognised that caring for and interacting with a pet can be therapeutic - especially for those living with mental illness.
Robotic cats, sold by an American company Joy For All, are remarkably lifelike for those with dementia who want to cuddle, .and stroke and feel a response. The built-in sensors mean they purr and meow when stroked and even lift a paw and open their mouths.
The team at Newmarket took the concept from an inspirational woman – Sheila Wainwright ‘known as the cat lady of Wakefield’. She has led the way for Rotary in recognizing and evidencing the value of the robotic cats.
For her she realised that their cat was the only thing which calmed her husband in his distressed state with dementia. In the last 8 years she has raised many thousands of pounds. Her work has been adopted around the country with other Rotary Clubs. To date her Rotary Club has distributed around 400 cats and raised money to support Admiral nurses.
Newmarket Rotarian Janet Collins said, “We wanted to raise a lot of money to buy these cats that will make a lot of unhappy, unwell, sad and lonely people, very happy! Newmarket Rotary set about organising a gala dinner way back during covid lock down but waited until people were happy to mix again in public.” On Saturday 24th September 86 paying guests sat down to a 3-course dinner at Newmarket’s Heath Court Hotel. Guests were welcomed with a champagne reception gifted by Rotarian Derek Keen of A & J Wealth Management. A locally organised raffle with prizes donated by Rotarians raised £1500 matching the donations that had already been received before the night. A further £3435 was raised on a silent auction run by Fund Raising Auctions with successful bidders winning a week in a private villa in Portugal, a 2 night break in Reykjavik with a northern lights tour, amongst other exciting lots from a Sunday lunch voucher at the prestigious Jockey Club Rooms to bottles of wine from the singer Sting’s vineyard.
Entertainment for the evening came from Antony Myers – the Voice of Vegas, who during his second set had most of the guests up and dancing and even winding a conga around the tables. Together with the price of the tickets the evening raised more than a fantastic £7000.
Janet demonstrated her therapy cat which cost £100 each. Janet added “The plan is to issue other such cats to those people in our community who would benefit. We are going to work with West Suffolk, Dementia Action Alliance, and Dementia Care so we direct the cats to those in need.
We have seen around the country that this simple solution to a complex challenge, can offer a profound practical support.”
Rotary Newmarket want to express thanks to all the generous guests who made the evening such a success and in particular to those who gave auction and raffle lots and handed in cash donations. Newmarket Rotary undertake a lot of work in the community; this night will specifically help those living with dementia, their carers and their families.
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