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Cath's just wild about animals in Borneo.

Byline: DAVE ROBSON dave.robson@trinitymirror.com @Daverobson_gaz

THEY say life in the city can be a jungle - but a Teesside HR professional is giving it up to go and live in a real one.

Former Nunthorpe School student Cath Willers moved to London in 2000 to forge a career in HR and, on and off for the next 18 years, she's done just that.

Working for well-known firms like Vanquis Bank, she built herself a successful and rewarding career.

But a brief spell volunteering at a wildlife haven in Borneo left her yearning for something more.

And such was the draw of the wild, she's now given up her lucrative job in favour of spending a year - at least - volunteering at the Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, where she'll be living alongside orangutans, monkeys, crocodiles and snakes.

Cath, who attended Marton Sixth Form College and Teesside University, first volunteered in Borneo in 2012.

She said: "At the risk of it being a cliche, it was life changing for me and it's why I've been back every year since. I fell in love with the country and the people and most of all the amazing work they were trying to do to help the animals in their care."

Cath volunteers through an organisation called the Orangutan Project and will be based at Matang. The centre is open to the public and while the "stars of the show" are definitely the orangutans, it also has sunbears, macaque monkeys, gibbons, clouded leopards, porcupines, crocodiles, snakes and lots of birds.

And Cath, 42, knows it will be very hard work.

Cath She said: "A typical day involves cleaning out night dens/cages and feeding the animals in the morning. Then in the afternoon, we work on any big projects that need doing, such as building new enclosures or night dens, or maintenance.

"We also make 'enrichment' for the animals - typically some sort of food puzzle or something we can give them to help stimulate their minds and get them up and about so they are active.

"There's always something to do at Matang and it is by no means glamorous. It's hard, manual work in the baking heat and humidity - and you can imagine how pleasant we all smell at the end of the day!" Cath, who will have a facilitator role at Matang and is a trustee of its UK-based charity Project Borneo Ltd, quit her "fancy pants HR job in London" in November and will head for Borneo tomorrow.

And it's hard to think of a bigger contrast to her former life.

She said: "It's a voluntary position so I won't get paid but I get somewhere to live and a food allowance every couple of weeks.

"It's very basic accommodation, with a typical Malaysian squat toilet, and the weather takes a lot of getting used to, but I love it."

Willers " She added: "I had decided that the stress of my role in London was making me miserable and my love affair with the city had come to an end."Borneo was what I wanted to do more than anything and I'm fortunate enough to have some good savings to enable me to follow my dreams. I still can't quite believe how lucky I am to be doing what I'm doing and to be able to do it longer term."

| Follow Cath's adventures on her blog at gingerinthejungle.com

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Cath Willers, of Middlesbrough, is swapping life as an HR professional in London for a life volunteering at the Matang Wildlife Centre in Borneo
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Feb 28, 2018
Words:596
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