It was back in October 2004 that the Somali Breed Advisory Committee realised something positive had to be done about PK Deficiency, an anaemia type disease found in a percentage of the breed.
Information was hard to find, though it was clear that testing could only be done by sending blood samples to laboratories in either the USA or Germany, but there were no formal arrangements or reliable identification by means of microchipping etc. - in fact, everything seemed rather haphazard!
Somali Cat Club members at the fundraising garden party in aid of research into PK Deficiency in Somalis. Also pictured is vet Andrea Harvey, holding a cheque presented by the club.
Then there was a terrific breakthrough! At the GCCF Supreme Show 2005, members of the Somali committee met Andrea Harvey, the RCVS Specialist in Feline Medicine at the University of Bristol, and learned of the project she was undertaking there. To find out about the disease, what the project entails and the work we are doing to support Andrea, visit the PK Deficiency page on the Somali Cat Club website: www.somalicatclub.com It does make very interesting reading.
We had liaised with the Abyssinian Cat Club and had been given permission to use an excellent article by Mike Shammas from their magazine, Papyrus, in our own Somali Journal. We knew the Abyssinian Cat Club was planning to send a generous donation to Bristol and decided at the Somali Cat Club’s AGM this year that we had to work together with them and donate a substantial sum for the project ourselves.
The SCC is not a wealthy club so we decided to have a very special Summer Party and use the funds raised to make our contribution worthwhile. Our aim was to raise £500 to allow us to present a cheque to Andrea at our party.
Di Taylor, the Club Secretary, suggested she could open her farm for the day and organise a Treasure Hunt by car around the immediate area with some Marks & Spencer vouchers as the winning prize. The day chosen was Sunday, 25th June from mid-day to 5pm. Tickets were £10 to include entry to the treasure hunt plus a delicious barbecue lunch with all the trimmings, delicious desserts and a huge choice of liquid refreshment. We had just four weeks to organise everything and invite as much interest and support as possible – the race was on!!!!!
Di worked out the fiendishly complex clues for the Treasure Hunt and sorted the route. I went to the London Cat Club Show and was able to obtain some generous donations for the auction, especially from Russell Hardy Designs, Royal Canin and R&L among others. Emma Watts worked on the website – producing a PK Deficiency information section and providing publicity for the party. Alison Lyall (the SCC’s answer to Nigella!) produced a vast array of scrumptious cakes to sell at the Celtic Show, making over £100 for the fund.
A number of generous donations started to arrive from people who were not able to attend the party but who wanted to support the scheme. Brenda Horsley donated virtually a warehouse of leisure furniture for the auction and a day’s “Scuba Diving Experience” for the intrepid adventurer! Sue Abbott, our Treasurer, had broken her leg so was at a distinct disadvantage! She donated a very pretty tanzanite and diamond gold ring for the auction and said we could sign her plaster for £1 a go, with a prize of M&S vouchers for the lucky signature!
Sunday, 25th June dawned bright and sunny! Six of the committee had attended a function at the Wythall Village Hall the night before, raising a healthy sum with a raffle and joining in with the old time music hall, but they were still up early, getting things ready for the big day.
Barbara Pointing was a tower of strength, working hard all day and she had also provided a taxi service to ensure a good attendance at the party. Emma brought the Somali stall and made some beautiful cards for different occasions and they soon attracted willing buyers.
At mid-day, everyone began to arrive; Di handed out the clues for the Treasure Hunt and the Committee worked at all the jobs that seem to be necessary at the last minute! Sean Watts and Di’s son, David, were in charge of the BBQ so soon Wythall was fragrant with the aroma of sausages and homemade burgers… mmmm, delicious!!!
In fact, the food was a great success. Alison Lyall had made some delicious Chinese-style pork burgers as well as a selection of scrumptious roulades. Adrian Horsley had produced some real beef burgers that were so tasty. Rachel Hozier, one of our members, brought some more irresistible desserts including strawberry and cream profiteroles with chocolate sauce!! There were crusty baguettes with a bewildering choice of fillings and some cool summer salads. Susan Robertson brought a tasty pasta salad (I would love the recipe!) and some spicy devilled eggs….. Emma was particularly happy as there were oodles of cherry tomatoes! The culinary choice was truly mouth-watering. Thank goodness food is calorie-free if you eat it standing up!!!!!
Our President Marc Henrie came along with his wife Fiona (it was she who designed our beautiful logo many years ago!), taking lots of pictures and spending lots of money! They are both very supportive and always try to attend club functions. Then at 2pm we started the Auction.
There were so many items to go under the hammer, including a huge hamper of goodies that the girls had won at Wythall the night before! That alone would have fed a flat full of students for nearly a term!!!! Everyone entered into the spirit of things and it was great fun selling all the items. Our takings at the end totalled over £400 towards our target! As the afternoon progressed, some thought about the television and the match between England and Ecuador - we had made provision though! Di has a huge television and people who wished to watch on the big screen could pay for the privilege!!!
Marc Henrie a.s.c., President of the Somali Cat Club, presents a £1,000 cheque from money raised to help research into PK Deficiency at Bristol University to vet Andrea Harvey.
Then, at the end of a wonderful day, the committee started to add up the figures. We had exceeded our wildest dreams with a total of over £1000, double our original target! Marc Henrie presented a cheque to Andrea made out to the University of Bristol for the PK Deficiency Project and the committee agreed any extra monies would go into the pot to help those Somalis who fall on hard times (a good idea, as we have had some difficult rescue situations to deal with in the last year). Andrea agreed with this and was kind enough to donate her prize for winning the treasure hunt for the next welfare event. She was astounded with our donation, saying it would really catapult the project forward.
Finally, as evening approached, we all went our different ways, feeling very proud and happy that we had done something significant for Somalis.
I would like end by thanking all those people who have contributed in some way, no matter how small, to our success and those wonderful committee members who gave of their time unstintingly. Some individuals are mentioned above, but, if I have forgotten your name, please do not be upset, your contribution is valued, every single penny has been gratefully received and very much appreciated.
Thank you all so very much.
Anne Gregory (proud Chairman of the Somali Cat Club)