Fundraising for Charity
“There’s no way I’d be doing this otherwise!” long-time UK resident Diana Comber
would exclaim whilst struggling into the equivalent of a head-to-toe fur coat on
what might be a scorching summer’s day. The amazing outfit, a bespoke creation costing
almost £1,000 pounds, gives even Mickey Mouse a run for his money.
Her zany paperback Life in the Cat’s Lane is the mythical diary of her own “enraged”
moggy, identified on the cover as one A.S. Cat (A Superior Cat) as he copes with
the arrival of a “most squirrelous” puppy.
Diana closed down her marketing communications consulting business for nearly two
years, lived off savings and borrowed money so she could finish what she saw as the
first of a series called Pets Diaries. The idea was – and still is – to help fund
initiatives to fight brain-related diseases whilst supporting other relevant charities
Five years helping her mother to care for her retired surgeon father with vascular
dementia deeply affected Diana. So much so she decided to redirect over 25 years
of business and marketing experience into writing, publishing and promoting the book
to support Europe’s leading dementia research centre located at The National Hospital
for Neurology & Neurosurgery in London.
Pets Note Cards
Prior to writing the book, the author worked with its illustrator Christine J Allen
to sponsor production and sales of cat and dog note cards, contributing 100% of their
proceeds to the charity. The Pets Note Cards, produced from watercolour illustrations
of photographs of the author’s real cat and dog, were created by the artist who’s
better known for her landscapes and exhibitions in the Home Counties and New York
Life in the Cat’s Lane is what the tongue-in-cheek author labels “autobiofiction,”
a work based on her own real-life experience of “mismanaging the sharp end of dual-pet
ownership.” For by her frank admission, she made a cardinal error as a pet owner
– daring to introduce a rather too curious pup into a 17-year-old cat’s household
“Year 1 was hell,” she recalls of 2003 when her real cat Sooty was so put out by
the appearance of real Chow Tamba that puss “snubbed his owner royally” for the next
six months. “Left my bed the day the dog arrived,” Diana quips.
“My home office became a War Zone with their ongoing scuffles, chases, spitting and
claw swiping. They drove me nuts. The dog thought the cat was her exclusive play
toy while puss considered dog the bitch from hell.
“After a few weeks, though, I began to see the funny side and started taking notes
– thinking I might turn all the mayhem into a book to raise more money for The National
Despite warnings from others not to give up her day job of marketing and business
consulting, Diana did it anyway. “For 18 months I tried writing it whilst working
but couldn’t find enough time to make real headway. So, when my biggest contract
ended, I decided to wind down the whole business temporarily – and ‘just do it!’
By mid 2007, after almost two years of full-time effort, she had completed the manuscript.
Thus was born the purported diary of one A.S. Cat who vents furious meowings about
betrayal, trials and final triumph in the face of a hapless owner besotted by a dog.
And when Diana couldn’t find a publisher, she again did it anyway.
Brain Disease Research
“My father was once a dedicated cardiovascular surgeon,” she states. “Watching his
brain being destroyed by vascular dementia showed me how devastating such diseases
are for sufferers and carers alike. These illnesses are distinctly unglamorous and
terrifying to many but even small money-raising ventures like mine can make a difference.”
Life in the Cat’s Lane was published by the author’s communications consultancy Mspec.co.uk
which has been supporting work of The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery
(Registered Charity No. 290173), and the new European Dementia Research Centre there,
The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery is a leading centre for the
diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with a wide range of neurological conditions
such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Together with the Institute
of Neurology, NHNN is a worldwide leader in the research and treatment of brain and
spinal cancer, dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke
and head injuries while providing a major international centre for training.
The European Dementia Research Centre (EDRC) has become the UK's leading centre of
clinical research into Dementia and a clearinghouse for European activities in this
area while the Hospital has
become noted for its trialing of new drugs to slow the progression of Alzheimer's
Disease, which causes so many dementia-related illnesses.
Mspec.co.uk specialises in strategic and tactical communication
consultancy, training and coaching, working with both multi-national companies as
well as small and medium-size businesses.