Animal Centre staff set to battle the Arctic

Ateam from a Leicester animal rescue charity are preparing to brave temperatures of -18C on a 160-mile husky-drawn trek across the Arctic.

They aim to raise as much money as possible towards Woodside Animal Centre’s (RSPCA Leicestershire) £1million Care4Paws appeal in order to build an essential veterinary suite at the centre on Scudamore Road.

Six staff members from Woodside Animal Centre plus a volunteer from their PR company aim to complete the journey from Tromso in Norway to Northern Sweden in just six days.

Animal Centre staff set to battle the Arctic
“This is a huge challenge but we are all extremely motivated because we know how desperately important it is to get this vet suite up and running by 2016,” said Gary Wheway, Woodside’s Branch Manager. “The situation is critical. Without it, we simply will not be able to continue to provide medical care for the thousands of neglected and sick animals that arrive at the centre every year.”

The Arctic Challenge team, including Gary and five other members of staff are in training, with regular visits to the gym as they prepare to navigate their way through the arctic tundra, each sled will be pulled by five powerful huskies.

Gary, who has lost almost two stone in weight and increased his muscle mass by 28 per cent in less than a year, said: “Training has been hard, but it is getting much better.”

Now Gary and the rest of the team are starting to look forward to their challenge in March.

The team will travel up to 37 miles a day on husky driven sledges but for part of the challenge they will have to drag their own sledges to help the huskies through the more difficult terrain. They have to erect their own tents, cook their own food and look after their huskies each night.

Gary said: “We can’t wait to get started and spend time with our teams of huskies. But we are also very nervous about camping in sub-zero temperatures, coping with sleep deprivation and having to, on occasion, pull the sled and huskies through the difficult terrain.

The medical costs of treating the animals rescued by the centre is spiralling, and the need for the vet suite is critical. Without it, the centre will soon, for the first time in its long history, be forced to turn animals away.

Gary said: “The success of the Care4Paws Appeal will ensure our centre continues to provide the best animal care possible, and many people have already been incredibly generous, but we desperately need more support.”

Not only will the vet suite allow the centre to continue to provide top quality animal care it will also remove the need for sick and injured animals to undergo painful and often distressing journeys to and from local vet surgeries.

You can sponsor the challenge by texting ARCTIC to 70500 to make a £5 donation. All funds raised will go towards the Care4Paws appeal. Alternatively visit the Arctic Challenge team’s JustGiving page

The Care4Paws appeal aims to raise £1 million for the vet suite is the biggest in the centre’s history, and currently stands at just over the halfway mark.