A CHESTER-BASED Paralympic champion has joined forces with a children's author to help raise money for UK Zoos.

Hannah Cockroft MBE has partnered with Josie Dom – author of popular picture books Lum and Lum’s Mum – for the fundraising campaign, which will provide support for Chester Zoo.

Josie’s latest project is a poem telling the story of what happens when the Olympics is cancelled and the animal kingdom step up to compete instead of humans.

Hannah, whose partner and fellow para-athlete Nathan Maguire is also a part of the initiative, said: "As soon as I heard about Josie’s 'Animalympics' poem fundraiser, I just knew I wanted to be involved.

"As I live in Chester, I've seen throughout lockdown the effects that current situations have had on one of the city's most popular attractions so I knew I had to help in any way that I could.

"Growing up, I loved visiting zoos up and down the country with my parents and I would hate to see young people missing out on those experiences and memories because of the year that 2020 has turned out to be.

Chester and District Standard:

Hannah Cockroft MBE

"In her poem, Josie has linked the Olympic and Paralympic Games together with the zoo in such a clever way."

The poem was inspired during lockdown when Josie’s daughter claimed sloths were good swimmers.

Josie said: "I soon got plotting with my family which animals would be great at the particular Olympic sports. The result: an epic poem with buffalo playing football, orangutans playing tennis and Woodpecker Will organising the whole thing."

Fronting the initiative with Dom, Cockroft and Maguire are ex-Olympians and Paralympians from Team GB, including David Hemery CBE, Wendy Smith, Jo Mersh, Katherine Grainger DBE, and and Marcus Mepstead.

The fundraising project sees athletes reading their sport's verse from Josie’s Animalympics poem, in exchange for a donation to Josie’s GoFundMe campaign www.gofundme.com/f/animalympics-helps-zoos.

Donors will receive via email a daily video covering the Animalympics in place of the expected Olympics coverage. They have the opportunity to nominate their favourite zoo with all money raised going to the individual zoos to help cover their daily operating costs.