How a stray cat inspired a Swansea man to a 10,000km cycle around the British Isles coastline

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A Swansea man goes on a 10,000 km bike ride along the coast of the British Isles to raise money for three charities after taking in a stray cat during the lockdown.

Jean-Louis Button, 28, has set a goal of completing the grueling challenge before September after starting the ride on June 22nd.

Mr Button has traveled 3,517 km (2,185 miles) to date and plans that his route will take him across the Scottish Highlands and Isles, the east coast past Newcastle, Skegness and Cromer and the south coast from Kent to Land’s End.

He said: “I decided on a whim that this summer I wanted to push my physical and mental boundaries for three charities by cycling further than ever to say thanks for the incredible job they are doing.

“I chose any charity because it helps with causes that are close to my heart.”

Working with two charities that provide food and water to vulnerable people in India and Africa – the Akshaya Patra Foundation and Water for Kids – Mr Button was inspired to donate to the Swansea branch of Cats Protection after seeing a stray during the lockdown Cat had recorded.

Photo credit: Jean-Louis Button

Stray Jess is said to be around 18 years old and is now in a temporary foster family in search of a forever home; Mr Button was unable to adopt her himself due to the long bike ride.

He said: “I chose Cats Protection because personally I was hit pretty hard by mental health problems along with so many others during the lockdown and luckily at just the right moment a beautiful cat snuck through my door and me with its gentle purr woke up.

“Over eight or nine weeks we became incredibly close companions and because of the amount of love, happiness and comfort she brought me, I felt a desire to give back and help one of the UK’s largest cat charities.

“I honestly don’t know how I would have got on without Jess’s loving company.”

Mr Button has previously run marathons and ultramarathons for charity and drove 1,000 km across the Netherlands in flip-flops to raise money for the islanders of Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma.

Mandy Armstrong, a volunteer at Cats Protection’s Swansea office, said, “We were so surprised and delighted that Jean-Louis chose our office to benefit from his amazing journey.

“His friendship with Jess is a real tribute to the wonderful companions of cats and how they enrich our lives in many ways.

“We enjoy following Jean-Louis’ journey and we will cheer him on as he tours our beautiful coastline.”