“I was brought up in Caldicot and my mother had three children by the time she was 20.

I was the oldest child so I helped bring up the kids with my parents. Cats were in and out of the house but things were different then - you were lucky if you de-flea and wormed them. Things were different when it came to cats 40 years ago

My husband and I moved to Rogiet in 1993, when I was 22-years-old, and we went to the RSPCA and got our first cat Chutney. In 2011 after a chronic illness which was treated, we ended up having to put her to sleep which was tragic.

I now call my cat charity work Chutney’s legacy as a tribute to my beloved cat whom we lost at 18 years of age.

After her death we went to the RSPCA and collected three new cats – Guinea a three-legged cat, Bumble and Mango who became our babies.

In the June I saw three ladies in a car park and they were transferring cats in crates from one car to another.

The woman said that they were from New Start Cat Rescue in Gloucester, and I left and though no more of it.

At that time there was a void in my life. I was committed to my job as a decontamination nurse, and had worked my way up to senior nurse. We had also made the choice not to have children.

I decided to do some fundraising for the cat rescue and I was able to raise £650 with a jumble sale.

We had more and more cats and myself and another woman called Ruth started taking in cats and rehoming them. From there we have evolved and we now home between 300 and 400 cats a year.

We had an income of £41,544 and that is all spent on our vet bills.

We became an official rescue in 2012 it evolved into Usk New Start Cat Rescue.

We cover the whole of Gwent, but cats have no boundaries so we have taken cats from Cardiff, Bridgend Swansea but generally it’s wherever the priority is.

There are nine people on the committee and then we use foster homes, we don’t have a cattery. We have about 20 foster carers at the moment and we also link with other organisations in the region. They are a major support. If it wasn’t for people opening up their homes to take in the cats we couldn’t do what we do.

We have people who are only able to offer transport, but they will drive from Tredegar to the vets in Newport.

We have seen some terrible cases in our time. Like one case from 2014 in which we rescued a cat after someone got a message from a man who threatened to hit the four-week-old kitten over the head with a hammer. They found the kitten’s mum with another kitten, another kitten had been given to a child.

We got them all together and got them homed.

We can’t just pick up cats that are found by people. We try to find the owner and if we do we see if they want to hand it over.

We try to educate people and offer people transport to get their cats neutered. I do it for the sake of the cats.

Often we will leave the cat in a person’s home, get them vet checked and vaccinated and then re-home them directly from their original home.

We haven’t put many cats to sleep, it’s very difficult to make that decision. It’s never on social grounds.

I fully devote my life to Usk New Start Cat Rescue. I get people messaging me all the time and I’m tagged a lot on Facebook posts. I have stood back a bit, and it’s easier now. I am not spending my lunchtimes on the phone now.

I’ve had to learn to step back, but the constitution of the charity is that we will help any cat that needs rescuing as best as we can and using the donations and monies as effectively as we can.

We have had no respite from the cat rescue, there have been so many unwanted cats. It is getting worse, and other rescues say the same. I think it’s because people are moving into rented accommodation and landlords won’t allow pets.

At one point last year in one week we had 84 kittens on our books ranging from new born to 16 weeks. That’s not including the adults.

We need to get the message out there about cats not having kittens, if you want kittens to play with then come to us and we will see if you can foster kittens for us.

I have been with my husband Alistair since we met when I was 14. We met in a brass band, he used to play the trombone for Usk Silver Brass Band and I played the cornet for the Severn Tunnel Band. A load of us moved to the Usk band and that’s where we met.

Then we started courting and we got married in 1995 when I was 24-years-old. He is absolutely fantastic and so supportive. We have the odd argument when we go out and I’m on the phone, but who else would live in a house full of bags for a charity.

Usk is very supportive to us and our work. People know us as an Usk cat rescue and whenever we have thought of changing the name of the rescue we decide that we wouldn’t know what else to call it.

My whole family are very supportive. My Nan Violet, who was also known as Vi Rogers, she was beautiful and everyone remembers her. People used to say she looked like Sophia Loren. I was very close to her and she helped bring me up.

She was very much charity focus and ran the Sunshine Club in Caldicot and she would go to Cwmbran every Saturday with people with learning difficulties. She has inspired my charity work.

She died in November and I miss her like crazy and her death broke my heart.

The commitment to the rescue is so much that even at my nan’s funeral I was still having calls. I had to turn my phone off for three hours and then pick up the calls after the funeral.

I haven’t had time to grieve her properly and we also lost a very close friend around the same time.

We have also rescued four chickens, a woman called Sally negotiates with farmers to rescue chickens that are going to slaughter. We had to have two put to sleep, so we have two now. I have also funded a pregnant dog from Cyprus and she and her pups all have homes now.

I work as a decontamination manager and a senior nurse for infection control and work mainly in the Royal Gwent Hospital, but I cover the whole of Gwent, as well as with community dentistry and I go into the prisons.

Mainly my life is about cats, and that is where my focus is. I also focus on my work where I also want to make a difference to patients.

I am writing a book about my experiences at the moment and I want to get it published. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t know about. The book will give an insight into rescue work and balancing that with my life, but it’s work rescue balance as far as I’m concerned.

I love my job, I love my cats and I love my family.”

For more information about Usk New Start Cat Rescue visit newstartcatrescue.org.uk or visit the Usk New Start Cat Rescue Facebook page.