Firefighter to cycle across the country for organ donation

A firefighter for Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is set to ride over 340 miles in just four days to raise awareness around organ donation.

Nick Stratton will be taking part on the sponsored bike ride from Newcastle to Bristol in aid of the Transplant Association after his friend Kevin Mashford underwent a heart transplant in 2013.

The Technical Fire Safety Watch Manager is hoping to complete the ride from the Newcastle Freeman Hospital, where Kev underwent his heart transplant, to Ashton Gate Stadium in just four days (22/07-25/07).

The ride, in memory of his cyclist donor, is aimed at both raising money for the Transplant Association and raising awareness about transplant and organ donation.

Named Team Mash, the group are hoping to raise more than £25,000 with the cause particularly relevant for AF&RS.

In May, the Service partnered with the NHS to wrap 13 fire engines to help raise awareness of organ donation.

The wrapping of fire engines was to encourage families to discuss organ donation and the upcoming change in the law.

Nick Stratton, Technical Fire Safety Watch Manager for AF&RS, said: “I’ve known Kev for the last 16 years and in that time he has gone from the final stages of heart failure to receiving a donor heart and a new lease of life.

“The transplant has not only extended his life, which had become very limiting, but also transformed it.

“I remember the night he went in for surgery, it was very tense. The Transplant Association provides funding for NHS Nurse education specifically around psychological support. And aims to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.  

“Since receiving his transplant, Kev decided to start cycling in memory of and dedication to his donor, John. The ride from the Newcastle Freeman hospital to Bristol is a challenge for anyone, let alone someone with a heart transplant!

“When I heard there was space I decided to go for it. It’s with a great guy, in memory of another great guy and it raises awareness and funds for a great cause.

“It will be the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken and if I’m honest I’m a bit worried, but I know it will all be worth it in the end.”

The Transplant Association is a charity co-founded by Kevin and provides support and information to those who are in need of transplants.

It also funds counselling courses for nursing staff working within transplants.

Kevin added: “Having the support of Nick from Avon Fire & Rescue Service and all the other cyclists who have signed up to the ride is fantastic.

"I’m sure the overriding feeling of contributing to the charity and raising much needed awareness for people to join the Organ Donor Register, will go someway to ease the aches and pains of cycling such a long distance.”

To donate, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=NickStratton2&pageUrl=1

You can follow their journey on Twitter via @TeamMashB2N and #HeartTransplant

For more on the Transplant Association, visit http://transplantassociation.org.uk/