An Aylsham Football Club stalwart is tackling crocodile and hippo-infested African waters to raise money for a cause very close to his heart.
Architect Mark Camidge is white-water rafting along the Zambezi River in aid of Kidney Research UK after his wife Rachael underwent a successful kidney transplant in August.
Mark, whose firm Chaplin Farrant designed Aylsham FC’s Youngs Park home, is a former youth team coach for the under-sevens up to the under-13s, and is now an assistant coach and occasional player with the first team.
He is also organising an online silent auction for the cause with a raft of sporting and other lots, including a shirt signed by 18 of the Premier League-winning Manchester City team, use of an Audi A8 for 72 hours, and an England cricket shirt signed by Michael Vaughan.
And he is urging people to join the organ donor register to give others the same chance of life as Rachael has been granted.
The Camidges were asleep at their home in Banningham at 2.30am on Friday August 3 when Rachael got the life-saving phone call they had hardly dared dream of – a donor kidney had become available if they could get to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by 5am.
Rachael was born with only one kidney and her health began to deteriorate after the birth of their son, Toby, in 2003. She had been in final-stage kidney failure for nearly three years and had been on home dialysis, four times daily, for almost all that time.
The couple, both 43, raced to the Cambridge hospital where, after extensive tests and an anxious wait for the results, the operation went ahead.
Rachael goes back to Addenbrooke’s for check-ups once a fortnight and, although still recovering from the major surgery, she is feeling much better, according to Mark.
“She’s been ill for about 14 years but she describes how she’s feeling now as if she’s ‘woken up again’. It’s lovely,” he said.
The three men are paying all their trip expenses so that every penny in sponsorship goes to the charity. Mark hopes to raise at least £7,500 with the feat.
They are rafting over 30km down the Zambezi, through Zambia and Zimbabwe, battling some of the biggest and fastest waters, with the highest concentration of grade five white-water rapids in the world. Each night they are camping on the riverside.
Mark said Rachael’s treatment and transplant would not have been possible without “amazing” NHS staff, the donor register and Kidney Research UK’s work.
“All of a sudden, the desire to raise money and get more donor-registered people is even more important to us, as it has saved Rachael’s life,” he added.
“We know already of over 40 people who have signed up off the back of Rachael’s story, and we are keen to encourage everyone to join. Just one person can potentially save up to seven others. What an amazing gift to be able to help someone live in the event of your death.”
* To sponsor Mark visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zambezi-18
* For more information on the silent auction, which ends at 5.30am on November 6, visit: https://www.32auctions.com/zambezi-18
* To join the donor register visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk
WORDS COURTESY OF JUST REGIONAL