The Andy Cole Fund.
Last year saw the launch the Andy Cole Fund, which aims to raise £500,000 for research to improve kidney transplants and patient wellbeing. England and Manchester United footballing legend Andy Cole set up the fund having become a charity ambassador in 2018. It came after he’d faced the toughest battle of his life when his own kidneys failed, and when the Covid-19 pandemic brought home to him just how vulnerable he is as a kidney patient.
Hope from devastation
In 2015, Andy developed kidney failure and after two years of treatment to try and rescue his kidney function, he was told he needed a transplant. Fortunately for Andy, his nephew was found to be a match, and the transplant took place in 2017. However, Andy was devastated when it became obvious that this wasn’t the end of his difficulties.
“I one-hundred per cent thought I would have the transplant and feel like the old me again. Give me a couple of months, I’ll be up and doing my thing. I’ll be running around again like a young man. Then I got the harsh reality check. It doesn’t happen. It hits you hard.”
Not knowing anyone else with kidney disease, Andy felt alone and without hope. But joining #TeamKidney showed him how much work is going on to transform treatments, and galvanised him to raise money for research.
Hearing the charity’s researchers talk about initiatives starting to make the physical and mental kidney disease journey more bearable, was the spark for the fund. Listening to the great research projects the charity is funding was amazing. It reassured me that I’m not the only one going through this.
Andy told his story with moving honesty to help us launch the fund in May 2020. We secured widespread coverage in news and sports media – including The Sun, Daily Mail and The Guardian – reaching a combined audience of nearly 200 million people; alerting many more to the reality of kidney disease and the urgent need for research.
A winning team
In December, global financial services firm UBS became the first corporation to join the Andy Cole Fund First XI; 11 corporate supporters we hope to recruit to sponsor the fund. UBS employee Sarah Viner spurred the bank on to sign up, having received a kidney transplant herself in 2001.
Sarah said: “Health, wellbeing, feeling cared for and included are important elements of our diversity and inclusion employee networks, and we’re delighted to partner with Kidney Research UK and the Andy Cole Fund. Having Andy share his journey with us will be a great way to raise awareness, share the message and show support!”
Covid-19 delayed our plans for a gala dinner and golf day in aid of the Fund. They will now take place in 2022, and will help us reach our fundraising goal for the Fund of £0.5 million by 2023.