Northern Ireland news

Former footballer Andy Cole urging people in NI to get on their bikes to support patients living with kidney disease

Former Manchester City footballer Andy Cole, pictured in action in 2005. Picture by Nick Potts/PA

FORMER footballer Andy Cole is urging people in Northern Ireland to get on their bikes for the world’s first virtual cycling festival in support of patients living with kidney disease.

The ex-Manchester United and City striker, who had a kidney transplant from his nephew in 2017, hopes his story of living with the disease will inspire people to raise vital funds for Kidney Research UK.

Cole last night appealed for people across the north to "choose your wheels" and join the charity event this weekend.

"Getting out on my bike has been a revelation," he said.

"I didn’t used to be a cyclist, but I’m trying lots of new things to keep my fitness up since having a kidney transplant and particularly since lockdown."

The ex-footballer launched the Andy Cole Fund earlier this year to help people like him living with kidney disease.

He aims to raise at least £500,000 over the next three years and advance research into kidney disease, transform kidney transplants, and help patients with their mental health and wellbeing.

"We need research to help make life better for kidney patients," Cole added.

"It’s been really tough since I was diagnosed, and I know I’m not alone."

Cole urged people to get on a bike, scooter, skateboard, wheelchair, roller skates, even a penny farthing and take part in the online RideLondon festival, from anywhere in the world.

The event, which runs from today to August 23, can be completed any distance from 1km upwards.

Marc Shaw from Kidney Research UK, said: "Kidney disease can affect anyone - including football legends like Andy Cole.

"There is no cure and for people living with kidney failure the only way to stay alive is dialysis or transplant.

"Events like this help fund vital research to develop better treatments for people affected by kidney disease and ultimately, cures. So, set your goal and ride for Cole."

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