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Mark Dobson: Their gesture will really help kidney patients

In his weekly column, transplant recipient Mark Dobson, son of former MLA Jo-Anne, on how one club is making a big difference

Last week in my first column of 2019 I talked about the impact which one little girl, Rebecca, is having on so many people in Coleraine to promote the organ donation message.

This week - and I know they won't mind me putting it like this - I want to head to entirely the opposite end of the age spectrum.

You will remember me talking in my column some time ago about Matt Clarke who received his dialysis across the ward from me at Daisy Hill Hospital on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

You may also remember that when Matt and his wife Doreen, who live in Armagh, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary they asked friends and family for donations towards mum's charity, Kidney Care UK, instead of gifts.

Matt has been a firm friend to us and thanks to him mum made the journey to Armagh last week to meet with the members of the Hartford Friendship Club to chat to them about our journey and deliver the important message of organ donation.

We are blessed to have so many amazing groups, community groups, organisations and clubs right across Northern Ireland which provide opportunities to socialise, to join others in a hobby or to simply get out and have some fun. Mum tells me that the members of the Hartford Club have a lot of fun and were even sharing in some post-Christmas mulled wine when she arrived to set up.

They were so taken with the message that the club has agreed to hold their annual coffee morning on Saturday, March 30 in Armagh Masonic Hall in aid of her charity. What a generous gesture of support from chairperson Alex Stinson and his members which will make a difference to kidney patients.

It was mum's first presentation of 2019 and I know she's looking forward to getting out and about as much as possible in the weeks and months ahead. Speaking of getting out and about, and with those January fitness resolutions firmly in mind, we've also been promoting the Belfast city marathon as a super way of getting fit, linking up with friends and also supporting some amazing causes as well.

Last year, and just four weeks after surgery, mum ran her first ever marathon along with her team supporting Kidney Care UK. This year, and with the marathon switching to a Sunday - May 5 - she's starting to get the ball rolling again and encouraging people to think about signing up.

Mum wasn't alone last year, however, as she was assisted by Mark Gordon whose mother received a kidney transplant and he was running in her memory.

Mark has been well and truly going that extra mile as once again he is taking on a marathon challenge to support the charity. Mark is an amazing supporter of Kidney Care UK and this year is one of the nominated runners for the London Marathon and, not only is he doing that, but he is also going to help mum once again in Belfast. What a series of marathon achievements for a Waringstown man and all with kidney patients at the heart. There's a new link on the website which I'll post below and if you've been bitten by the January fitness bug please have a look and think about taking part as well as supporting local kidney patients and their families.

Whatever your New Year resolutions and healthy plans are for 2019, please stay safe and remember that you have an entire year ahead to have that conversation and think about giving the ultimate gift.

You can find out more about becoming a Kidney Care UK supporter by taking part in this year's Deep Riverrock Belfast City Marathon online at: www.kidneycareuk.org/get-involved/challenge-events/belfast-city-marathon

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