A tribute to Elaine Sherlock
We are sad to announce that one of our longstanding supporters, Elaine Sherlock, passed away this summer.
Elaine, 57, had a hereditary kidney disease and started dialysis in 2010. She received a kidney as part of the paired donation scheme in 2011, and lived a full and active life up until her death this year from Covid-19. Over the past decade, Elaine has been a huge fundraiser for Kidney Research UK, raising large sums of money and increasing awareness of our work.
Elaine’s brother Jim Hayton said, “First and foremost, Elaine was a huge supporter of Kidney Research UK because she’d benefitted so much from her kidney transplant. After she died, people told me how she’d helped them with their own fundraising. I knew she’d done the Kiltwalks and taken part in other charity events, but even I was surprised when I found out how much else she had been doing.
Heart and soul of the family
“Elaine was the only girl in a family of five children and so growing up she was the apple of everyone’s eyes and spoiled by the rest of us. Elaine was the heart and soul of our family, the one who always remembered birthdays and reminded people about anniversaries. If I had a problem, I always knew she’d be on the phone for a chat.”
Many members of Elaine and Jim’s large extended family have the same genetic kidney condition, which has only recently been identified. In 1977, their father fell ill with flu-like symptoms and died from kidney failure a few months later aged just 44.
A decade later, tests revealed that two of Elaine’s four brothers, Jim and Alan, had inherited the condition. Both Jim and Alan received transplants, although Alan sadly passed away in 2009 aged 48.
The family had always believed the condition only affected males, as their four aunts did not have it while their uncles and father did. However, when two female cousins in Los Angeles were diagnosed, Elaine had further tests which revealed that she too had early signs of kidney disease.
“Several people in the family stepped forward to offer a kidney. Elaine would say, ‘No, it’s too big an undertaking.’ But my cousin Jackie’s husband Peter was determined to donate, and although he wasn’t a direct match, his involvement meant Elaine could be part of the NHS paired donation scheme. This meant three people donated a kidney to someone they had never met, while their loved one received a well matched kidney in return. It’s our fantastic NHS at its best ” says Jim.
Even though Elaine had never let dialysis hold her back – attending hospital three times a week at 7am before going to her job at British Telecom (BT) – the transplant meant she could live life to the full. She was a supportive mum to her daughter Lauren, a wonderful colleague and determined fundraiser, feeling “blessed” she’d been given a second chance. Inspired by her efforts, the chairman of BT Scotland founded the Chairman’s Award for Volunteering, and Elaine was the first recipient.
As well as organising benefits and starting a new job at Ingliston Country Club, Elaine also found the time to travel with her partner Alex. “She lived in the most beautiful part of Scotland, close to Loch Lomond, and spent summers with Alex in Javea in Spain. Together, they enjoyed exploring the world,” says Jim.
Elaine and Jim’s family have endured many tragedies over the years, and understandably, the siblings were worried for their own children. Recently, a nephew moved to New York for work and was referred to Professor Bleyer, a kidney specialist in the US.
A specific diagnosis
“He suspected straight away that we had Mucin-1 kidney disease. Elaine and I got tested and we were positive, unsurprisingly, but the good news is our youngest brother Ronnie, who’s got four children, doesn’t have it and can’t pass it on, and my sons don’t have it. The best thing is as well as isolating the gene that’s causing the condition, Professor Bleyer thinks he’s three to five years away from a therapy which will at least mitigate the condition.
“Elaine got that good news in the latter stages of her life before she was unlucky enough to get Covid. She was delighted. It’s such a relief because we’ve all spent our lives worrying about our kids. It shows how important continued research is.” Others in the family, including Elaine’s daughter Lauren, currently await the results of their test.
Losing his sister has left a massive hole in Jim’s life, but he and other family members are determined to honour her by continuing her fundraising legacy. Following Elaine’s passing they are also keen to emphasise the risks to kidney transplant recipients arising from COVID-19 and encourage everyone in this category to remain very careful indeed.
A wonderful legacy
“Elaine was always willing to do someone a favour or lend a hand, and leaves a great legacy behind her. She was a great friend to Kidney Research UK and some of the fundraising lunches she organised were fantastic – fuelled by alcohol of course and rightly so! She loved it when she could get 40 or 50 women together.
“The charity will miss her and we’ll take up some of that work on her behalf. Her daughter Lauren recently set up a fundraising page and it’s raised thousands in a matter of weeks. We’ll all try to keep Elaine’s wonderful tradition going in her memory.”
Sandra Currie, chief executive of Kidney Research UK, said, “ I will miss Elaine enormously. In my time at the charity she has always been a fantastic volunteer. For many years Elaine was a member of our Lay Advisory Committee in Scotland. She walked the Kiltwalk for us, she attended the Purple Balls, and she was often at the Glasgow Bridges walks with fundraisers from work, or her family. She supported the team development by bringing expertise and training teams from BT to develop our team approach, much of what we learned is still part of what we do today.
“She was key to us being chosen as the benefiting charity of the Women in Scotland lunch, and hosted another Kidney Research UK Women’s lunch at her new workplace Ingliston Country Club.
“Elaine had been living a very happy and healthy life and the news of her death is devastating for her family and for all of us who knew her. Everyone at the charity sends their condolences to Lauren, to Alex and to all of her family.”
In memory of Elaine
If you would like to leave a tribute in memory of Elaine, visit her Much Loved page where you can make a donation or leave a message.
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