The picturesque setting of Castle Ward estate formed the backdrop for a renal horse ride and dog walk to promote organ donation and raise funds for two charities supporting local kidney patients.
Kidney recipient Stephen Nicholl and his wife Christine from Ballynahinch organised the event which drew riders and walkers from across Northern Ireland to the magnificent historic setting for HBO’s Game of Thrones, raising a fantastic £1,162.64.
Praising Stephen and Christine, Northern Ireland Ambassador for Kidney Care UK Jo-Anne Dobson said: “Stephen received a kidney at the Belfast City Hospital in May and just a few short months later alongside his wife Christine was working away to help support his fellow kidney patients and promote the life-saving organ donation message.
“Now many months on and to see Stephen looking so well thanks to the power of organ donation is absolutely amazing!
“However to work so hard to organise this superb event to fundraise and support Stephen’s fellow kidney patients through my charity Kidney Care UK and also the NI Kidney Patients Association is truly magnificent.
“All their hard work and attention to detail certainly paid off and it was wonderful to be with them on the day to help out and see this couple’s infectious enthusiasm in action!
“On behalf of Kidney Care UK I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their hard work and efforts to rally so many people to support a cause which touches the lives of so many.
“I also extend a special mention to everyone who took part on the day, those who gave their support in any way to Stephen and Christine’s magnificent efforts and to the staff at Castle Ward for looking after us all so well – your help and support for kidney patients is deeply appreciated.”
Stephen and Christine said: “We would like to send our grateful thanks to everyone who donated to us online and also came along on the day for your generosity.
“We were completely bowled over by the love and support of so many people who rallied to our call to support a cause which gives back to kidney patients across Northern Ireland.
“We would also like to thanks Anita Lambe, Vice Chair of the British Horse Society NI Region, for coming along on the day to give her support to our cause.”
Thanking Stephen and Christine on behalf of Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association, William Johnston said: “On behalf of the Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association we are delighted to receive a very generous sum following the Renal Ride and Dog Walk.
“It was lovely to get the chance to join with Stephen and Christine in the beautiful setting of Castle Ward and to see their enthusiasm for supporting our cause and delivering and organ donation message of hope.
“I want to say a special word of thanks to them for really pulling out the stops to put together an amazing event to help local kidney patients and their families.”