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Kidney Research UK partners with Hillside Outside for major bike ride challenge by Sarah Williams

24 July 2019

Kidney Research UK is delighted to announce it is partnering with leading event management company, Hillside Outside, as its official charity for cycling event Tour O The Borders, powered by Pirelli 2019.

Touro, as the borders bike ride is known, is a tough and demanding 120km ride through the Scottish Borders area, which attracts thousands of riders each year.

Two of those thousands looking forward to the ride on 1 September are father and son, Tim and Joseph McLean, who are taking part – only six months after transplant surgery.

Sharon Sheridan, Kidney Research UK’s fundraising manager for Scotland, said: “Kidney Research UK is delighted to be partnering with Hillside Outside as its official charity for Tour O The Borders 2019. This is one of the most unique and challenging bike rides in the UK, drawing in thousands of cyclists each year and we are proud to be part of that.

“We look forward to Touro this September and the opportunity to raise awareness of kidney disease, particularly welcoming Tim and Joseph, father and son kidney donor and transplant recipient, who are riding to fundraise for the charity.”

Hillside Outside
Sharon Sheridan, Kidney research UK and Harley Lothian, HIllside Outside, with Tim and Joseph McLean

Harley Lothian, marketing manager from Hillside Outside, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Kidney Research UK for Tour O The Borders, powered by Pirelli 2019.

“Tim and Joseph reached out to us earlier this year and we were so inspired by their story that we wanted to do what we could to raise awareness, fundraise and ultimately educate people about kidney disease, and the benefits that being physically fit, in this case through cycling, can have in such a situation.”

Tim and Joseph are regular participants in the Touro bike challenge. Last year they had to pull out at the last minute because Joseph was suddenly faced with end stage kidney failure.

It is Tim and Joseph’s relationship with Hillside Outside, coupled with their passion for raising awareness of kidney disease, that has helped facilitate the new partnership.

Here’s their story:

In summer 2018, 21-year old Joseph McLean started feeling ill. Fit, highly active and studying sports science, he became exceedingly tired and had bad muscle cramps. On 13 July he was rushed to hospital and the next day was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure, with his kidneys only functioning at 10 per cent.

Joseph was immediately put on haemodialysis for four days a week and subsequently diagnosed with Alports Syndrome.

As Joseph adapted to his condition, he was strongly supported by his family and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, who allowed him to study remotely as he needed. When he was well enough, he returned to university and had twilight dialysis at Aberdeen Infirmary. Ironically the waiting time on dialysis gave Joseph new study opportunities and in his next exams he got his best grades ever!

A transplant would change Joseph’s life and his father, Tim, came forward as a potential donor. He was tested and found to be a good tissue match. The transplant was a success.

Six months on from the operation, both he and Tim are so well recovered that they are taking on the challenge of the Tour O The Borders this autumn.

Tim and Joseph McLean
Tim and Joseph McLean training for Tour O The Borders.

Tim said: “I never had any doubts about donating my kidney. In fact, the whole incident has been one of the most incredibly positive experiences of my entire life. I’ve seen Joseph come back to full physical health, and even better we are both out and about on the bikes again.

“Training is a bit different for us now. Joseph is under the watchful eye of his renal physicians as well some very helpful guidance from the event physiotherapist. But we’re back on our bikes and in training to participate in this year’s event.”

He continued: “As a family we’ve been on a very unexpected and quite challenging journey together. We are deeply thankful for good health and good kidney function since the transplant. And, having seen for myself, I am grateful for the very many talented and dedicated staff of the renal and transplant units of the NHS. They’ve been simply amazing. Furthermore, these teams have benefitted from many years of pioneering research, much of which is supported by Kidney Research UK.

“Even fit young guys, like my son, can have kidney failure. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I think Joseph’s level of fitness undoubtedly helped him through his period on dialysis, but conversely it was his fitness that didn’t allow doctors to diagnose him earlier.

“During that time, it’s been immensely important to us to improve our awareness of kidney health – healthy diet, good hydration and electrolyte balance. I’d like to encourage other sportspersons, especially cyclists, to be aware of their kidney health too.
“We are delighted to hear that Hillside Outside has made Kidney Research UK the event charity for Tour O the Borders and can’t wait to be part of it on the day!”

You can find out more about Tour O the Borders and there’s still time to register, if you’d like to ride it.

Read about Tim and Joseph’s ride challenge on their JustGiving page.

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