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She is my heroine, says man who is going from couch to half marathon to support his girlfriend

10 September 2020

Andy Jenkinson is going from couch to half marathon to show his girlfriend that she is his heroine. 

Jenna Jackson has had two kidney transplants and Andy wants to show his support for her by running the virtual Great North Run for Kidney Research UK this weekend. 

Joining him will be his brother and keen runner Des, who is taking part as his father-in-law was recently diagnosed with kidney failure. 

Andy Jenkinson and Des
Andy Jenkinson and Des on training run

Civil servant Andy, 32, said: “Jenna is one of the bravest people you could ever meet. She is so positive and I’m so proud of her. I wanted to do this to show her how much she means to me and raise money for a cause that is close to all of our hearts. 

“I’m not normally a runner but am determined to do this!” 

The couple from Chesterfield only met last year but Jenna says he has become her rock, attending all her clinic appointments and being by her side through thick and thin.

He is my rock

Jenna, 36, said: “I told him straight away on our first date that I had a chronic health condition and he could run away if he wanted to! He didn’t and he has stuck by my side ever since.” 

Andy said: “When we went into lockdown, I shielded with Jenna to keep her safe, but I actually felt pretty useless. Thankfully my brother Des was doing all the shopping for us and generally keeping us going. I had really missed being outdoors and after a few beers one Saturday evening at the start of August I said:That’s it, I’m going do something positive for charity’.” 

He asked brother Des to join him on the run, and again, Des was only happy to help out, “I thought it was my duty as his brother and a regular runner to make sure he knew what he was doing!”  

“There was no way out of it once Des got involved!” Andy said. 

A Google search brought up the virtual Great North Run, which they will complete around Derwent Valley on Sunday 13 September and have already exceeded their fundraising target, with over £2,000 raised for their favourite cause to date. 

Jenna was diagnosed with end stage renal failure in 2005 when she was at Sheffield Hallam University studying English. She had to drop out as a result but went on to train and work in the hospitality and catering industry as a chef.  

“I started to feel tired, lethargic and lost weight but it wasn't particularly drastic - just came on gradually. I thought I was just stressed going into my final year. It was a general feeling of awfulness.” 

In 2006 she had a transplant which went well for nine years until 2015. 

Jenna Jackson
Jenna Jackson post-op

Second kidney transplant a success

“Unfortunately, the transplant failed, and I went on dialysis for eight months. I was so sick and really struggled with it.”

In July 2016 Jenna had her second transplant. During lockdown Jenna and Andy celebrated her fourth ‘kidneyversary’ at home together with cake.

“Andy has been at every single clinic appointment; he is like my own personal doctor. He is absolutely amazing. He is 100% behind me. I couldn’t ask for more.”

In 2017, 13 years after kidney disease forced her to drop out of university, Jenna completed her degree via the Open University route. “I got there eventually!” she said.

To support their run visit their Just Giving page 

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