Wheelchair for Charlie the cat

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FELINE great again!

Charlie the cat can thank Kirkham Prison for getting him back on his paws.

The brave moggie suffers from a rare condition which means he cannot walk unaided.

Charlie in his new frame

Charlie in his new frame

Eight years ago generous Gazette readers raised the cash to provide him with a special mobility cart.

But after wearing the device out, Christine Ashton, of St Annes Cat Rescue which cares for Charlie, appealed on The Gazette letters page for help replacing it.

Kirkham Prison immediately sprang to the rescue after discovering one of its inmates had experience in building mobility harnesses for animals, while Bamber Bridge-based aluminium supplier Simmal donated the materials free of charge.

Prisoner Roy Bennett, 74, who built the wheelchair, said: “I used to run a rehabilitation centre and in the past I have made frames for alsations and even a three-legged Shetland pony.

Prisoners at Kirkham Prison decided to help Charlie the cat, who suffers from a condition which leaves him unable to walk, by building him a frame/wheelchair to get about in.'Watching Charlie's progress are L-R: Head of Reducing Re-offending at Kirkham Prison Phil Riding, Roy Bennett who made the frame, and Adrian Fuller from Simmal who provided the aluminium for the frame.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'24-5-2012

Prisoners at Kirkham Prison decided to help Charlie the cat, who suffers from a condition which leaves him unable to walk, by building him a frame/wheelchair to get about in.'Watching Charlie's progress are L-R: Head of Reducing Re-offending at Kirkham Prison Phil Riding, Roy Bennett who made the frame, and Adrian Fuller from Simmal who provided the aluminium for the frame. PIC BY ROB LOCK'24-5-2012

“So when the prison saw the appeal in The Gazette and asked someone to help, I came forward. I was brought out to see Charlie and then built it over the weekend. It’s great to see him using it.”

Mrs Ashton added: “Charlie had worn the wheels out, and gone through two saddles in his old frame. It is incredible Roy was there at the right time to help him out.

“With his frame, Charlie can do almost everything a normal cat does. He loves rummaging through the bushes in the garden and chasing insects.

The only thing he cannot do is climb fences.”

Other readers have also made donations to the appeal, which are being used to buy an all-terrain mobility cart from America so Charlie can have two devices – one for inside and one for outside.

Phil Riding, head of reducing reoffending at Kirkham Prison, said: “We were delighted to discover Roy had just the skills needed to help the charity out.”