A BRAVE staff member at West Midland Safari Park will be running 13 miles with a broken hand to fundraise for the conservation of threatened rhinos.

Senior education officer and associate lecturer Cathy Dittrich will be swapping the classroom in Bewdley for the sights of London as she takes part in the Vitality Big Half Marathon on March 10 on behalf of Save the Rhino International (SRI).

To make the challenge even more difficult, Cathy has only just started running again recently after a six-month hiatus. She has never run this distance before and will be completing the whole 13 miles with a broken hand.

But Cathy says she could not turn down the opportunity to combine her hobby with helping the plight of one of her favourite animals.

She said: “My passion for rhinos and running both started in 2010 - a life-changing year for me, as I was made redundant, quit smoking and enrolled on a level three animal care course.

"On a field trip to South Africa in 2011, I encountered wild rhinos on safari and met a baby rhino in a rehab centre.

"I was blown away by the majestic presence of these creatures and was shocked and saddened to learn that this very same year, a subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct, in addition to the western black rhino.

“As I continued my studies with an animal and biological sciences degree, I revisited South Africa and developed an aspiration to become a zoo education officer.

"I wanted to share what I had learned and enthuse others about the amazing animals of this planet, in the hope that I could inspire people to care about and increase conservation efforts for animals in need."

Cathy and her colleagues are lucky enough to see rhinos almost every day from their classroom windows - as the Park has a "crash" of eight southern white rhinos and three Indian rhinos.

This includes Granville – the latest baby born in 2018.

Cathy added: “I’m now coming up to my 4th year at the Safari Park, but sadly the plight of the rhino continues.

"I’m hoping that this physical challenge will help fundraise for a very worthy charity, whilst raising awareness about these magnificent animals."

Cathy has set up a fundraising page for people to support her challenge. To donate, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/cathy-dittrich-hwm-TBH-2019-16753.

All the funds raised from Cathy’s half-marathon run will go directly to SRI, which will support the fight against poaching and habitat loss across 25 field programmes in 12 countries.