Positive steps in memory at the London Bridges Walk
On 31 July, a large team of walkers from Farnborough donned their purple Kidney Research UK t-shirts and set off from Victoria Embankment to join the charity’s seven-mile London Bridges Walk together.
Walking in memory
It was emotional for all of them. The group walked in memory of Sureen Ganatra, the director and owner of their chain of Playdays nurseries, who died last year aged 48. He was born with one kidney and was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease aged five. He had a transplant aged 38, which lasted seven years. He’d been on dialysis and waiting for a new kidney for almost four years when he died.
But Kim Ryan, 45, nursery manager of Playdays Farnborough, says the group of 16 – with more employees also walking from the other two nurseries – made sure the day was as uplifting as possible.
She says, “Sureen was a lovely man and a wonderful boss. He was so passionate about childcare and was lovely to work for. He was totally immersed in nursery life and very proactive in helping create a wonderful environment for both children and staff.
“He’d suffered from kidney issues all his life and did dialysis every day. But although we were aware of his condition, he rarely spoke about it and certainly never moaned. He was also a great fundraiser and a big advocate of Kidney Research UK, as the condition had impacted his life so much.”
Last summer, Sureen sadly passed away after a short illness unrelated to his kidney condition. He contracted sepsis and suffered of a cardiac arrest while on dialysis, and died of a hypoxic brain injury. It was a huge shock to everyone – especially his wife Shipra and two children and nursery staff.
“We were devastated,” says Kim. “It was a real shock. But through our grief we still had to make sure that the nursery kept running and the children were looked after. We tried to take over as best we could so that the family could grieve by themselves. Everyone has pulled together.
“Sureen had mainly looked after the day to day running of the nursery, so as well as dealing with the loss of her husband, Shipra and her son Eshaan have also had to immerse themselves in the business. It was a hard time for everyone.”
Determined to do something positive
But the staff were determined that they would try to do something positive to remember their beloved boss, who started the first nursery in 2008.
“We were having a conversation at work as the anniversary of his death approached and someone came up with the idea of doing the London Bridges Walk,” Kim says. “I have done a few similar things before like Race for Life but it was a new experience for some of our members of staff.
“I even did some training so I was fully fit!”
The group of fundraisers are keen to hit their £1,000 sponsorship target, while Sureen’s family raised £4,310 last year for Kidney Research UK. But their efforts won’t end there.
Continuing Sureen's legacy
Kim says, “We’ll continue to come up with new fundraising plans and are keen to make the walk an annual expedition, to continue his legacy.
“We all believe wholeheartedly in supporting Kidney Research UK. It is not only the patients themselves who have the burden of dialysis to cope with but also their families who bear the brunt of the disease. Everyone around them is affected.
“We’re all happy we can do something to help make their lives better. We really enjoyed the day and Shipra and the children were there to support us.”
On their fundraising page, Shipra wrote, “I am truly touched by their sentiment, this is a true testament to how [Sureen] inspired and touched people's lives as a friend, family, or boss. His strength of character, zeal, humour and passion for life just can’t be forgotten.
“There are around 3.5 million people living with kidney disease in the UK and 30,000 rely on dialysis to stay alive. Sureen was one of them, hooked up to a machine for hours every day waiting for a transplant. Dialysis is an invasive and gruelling treatment to help sustain life but for some it isn’t really living.
“Thanks to medical advancement Sureen was able to live life (albeit short) with his family and has left us with beautiful memories and a legacy.”
To support the team’s fundraising, please visit their fundraising page.
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