Susan Kee - Chair
I became involved with the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund because I felt I needed to give something back to the Kidney Community in Northern Ireland. My young daughter was admitted into intensive care with a rare autoimmune disease which had destroyed her kidneys.
I wanted to raise money to help fight this debilitating disease so that others did not need to suffer. As the only local charity to fund research in Northern Ireland I have never looked back. In the last 14 years I have witnessed the transformation of renal services in which Belfast City Hospital is now one of the leading transplantation centres.
I feel very privileged in my role as Chair to represent the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund. We are determined to ensure research is funded so we can make a difference and change the future.
The Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund is proud to be Northern Ireland’s first and leading charity funding kidney research, and the longest running charity promoting organ donation.
The charity is run entirely by volunteers, spread across many support groups in the Province, working to support the charity with donations and events.
Billy Thompson - Vice Chair
Following a successful kidney transplant in 1981, my wife and I wanted to give something back to say “thank you” to my brother who donated his kidney to me and to the medical team who brought me back to full health.
A friend suggested that we contact Mrs Josie Kerr who had founded the charity – the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund. This was exactly what we were looking for and at our first meeting we were made so welcome it felt like one big family.
I served as Chair from 1984 to 2000, before stepping down to allow room for some new blood.
Jeanie Martin - Honorary Secretary
My interest, involvement and eventually passion in the area of kidney disease began when, in 1976, I was appointed to a temporary part-time position in the Belfast City Hospital H&I laboratory. This was in the early days of local kidney transplantation and the laboratory performed the matching for donors and recipients. My post evolved into full-time, more senior roles, lab manager and for a few years interim clinical lead. I retired from the lab in 2019. During my time there, the range of tests and monitoring of patients’ bloods became much more sophisticated and accurate and to me it was always a very challenging and varied place to work.
I really enjoyed my involvement and so, although many retirees look for something entirely different to do, I felt that the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund was the perfect ‘fit’ for me, and in some small way I would be still helping renal patients. Not all patients are suitable for transplantation and have to live out their days on dialysis, so it’s great to know that research is currently being carried out to help these patients cope with all the stresses that life throws at them.
There were many great memorable moments in my working life especially when ‘difficult to match’ patients were transplanted but probably most memorable occasion for me was when I was awarded an MBE for my contribution to the Kidney Transplant Programme in Northern Ireland. Although I am no longer in the workplace and cannot contribute directly to patient care, as the Honorary Secretary of the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund I can still be a part of the fundraising activities that provide grants for vital research for kidney patients within Northern Ireland.
Margaret Elliott - Honorary Treasurer
I became involved in the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund in 1972 when a neighbour invited me to a coffee morning to raise money for Charity. She was planning to start a Group for fundraising as she had two cousins who had renal failure and were waiting for transplants.
50 years on and with a background in accountancy I accepted the role of Honorary Treasurer when I retired from work. With no family history of renal failure it is a privilege to be part of a dedicated and compassionate team of people, trustees, volunteers and medical advisers.
My initial involvement with the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund was through a close family friendship with Walter and Josie Kerr.
I started helping on Walter and Josie’s farm in Ballynabragget, Waringstown in 1985 as they were always on the go, either organising or attending Kidney Research Fund fundraising or awareness events all over Northern Ireland. Helping on the farm soon led to getting involved behind the scenes at activities and events such as Dog Shows, Lord Mayor’s Parades and the Waringstown Cavalcade.
Given the devasting series of events that led to Josie and Walter founding the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund, it was incredible that they found the resilience and strength to take on such a challenge. Josie had a natural ability to inspire others to help, her strong belief in the ‘good in people’ made her very special. Josie would have said that the most important thing was to be ‘a good person’, this ideal definitely inspired me to help with the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund.
Volunteering with the Charity is a very rewarding experience. Our recent 50 years celebrations has not only recognised the legacy that Josie and Walter have left but also acted as a huge thank you for the volunteers who give up their free time to attend meetings and help at events in all weather conditions.
I feel privileged to be part of the Executive Team and to be able to retain the connection back to Waringstown, where it all started.
I have a strong connection to the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund as my wife and several members of her family have experienced dialysis and kidney transplants.
I first became involved with the charity back in 1974 when my wife Yvonne went on dialysis for 14 hours a day twice a week for two and a half years. Because her mother and sister also needed dialysis, they started to investigate whether it was hereditary. Research continued over the years and it was confirmed that it was hereditary.
They each received transplants successfully which lasted over a decade but unfortunately my wife and her sister had to go back on dialysis. Because of advances in renal treatment their dialysis had been reduced to 6 hours a day twice a week as opposed to the original treatment of 14 hours a day.
After two years, my wife received a second transplant which lasted 33 years. Her sister waited 16 years for her transplant which was a live donation from her sister.
Rev Jim McCaughan
I have become involved with the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund because it’s the Charity which supported my daughter, Jennifer, when she was training in the treatment of Acute Kidney Disease and the science of organ transplantation.
Jennifer was deeply grateful for the financial support from the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund which enabled her to access the best possible training for her career. However she was surprised to receive more than that, as she also received the warm-hearted personal support of those involved in the charity.
When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2020, she had time to think about all kinds of important things, and one of those matters was that she was very keen that my wife and I would both be active supporters of the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund. Thus, after her death in December 2021, Alison and I both became engaged with the Charity and I was asked to serve on the Executive Team, which I am very happy to do.