Transplant survivor takes on fundraising challenge for kidney charity

Mr Bellingall is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event.

Jim and Anne Bellingall. Mr Bellingall is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event, which asks fundraisers to walk or run 60,000 steps throughout the month of June. - Credit: Jim Bellingall

A kidney transplant survivor and former Sea King pilot at RAF Coltishall is taking on a charity challenge.

Jim Bellingall, 77,  from Aylsham is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event, which challenges fundraisers to walk or run 60,000 steps throughout the month of June.

The 60,000 steps, the equivalent of 25.5 miles, represent the 60,000 people in the UK who are on dialysis or have received a kidney transplant.

Jim Bellingall is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event

Jim Bellingall, who is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event, which asks fundraisers to walk or run 60,000 steps throughout the month of June. - Credit: Jim Bellingall

Mr Bellingall was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) following a routine medical in 1972, while serving at RAF Odiham in Hampshire. 

He said: "Fifty years ago during a routine aircrew medical, the RAF discovered that I had a mild form of kidney disease.

“Fortunately it was not bad enough to stop me from flying, so I enjoyed being an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot for some 30-odd years.

"The final 20 I was based at RAF Coltishall, patrolling the North Norfolk coast and the rest of East Anglia in a bright yellow helicopter.”

Jim Bellingall is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event

Anne and Jim Bellingall. Mr Bellingall is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event, which asks fundraisers to walk or run 60,000 steps throughout the month of June. - Credit: Jim Bellingall

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During his time with the RAF, his kidneys were constantly monitored and he was told that at some point in the future, he would either need to go on dialysis or have a transplant.

That day came six years ago.

Mr Bellingall spent one month on peritoneal dialysis but developed a hernia and I needed to stop dialysis to have it repaired.

Two weeks later he received a kidney transplant.

He said: "The transplant was successful and it’s been fine ever since.”

Jim Bellingall is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event

Anne and Jim Bellingall. Mr Bellingall is taking part in the National Kidney Federation’s (NKF’s) Best Foot Forward event, which asks fundraisers to walk or run 60,000 steps throughout the month of June. - Credit: Jim Bellingall

Since taking up the NFK challenge Mr Bellingall has been clocking up the miles by walking the Norfolk coastline and countryside, visiting his favourite spots, Blickling Estate and Felbrigg Hall.

His goal is to raise £1,000.

Mr Bellingall said: “Please support this fundraising by the NKF, if kidney disease can happen to me it can happen to anybody.

“I thought that I was healthy and if I hadn’t had a very thorough medical by the RAF, I wouldn’t have known for many years that I had chronic kidney disease. You never know if or when you may need their help.”

To support Mr Bellingall visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/James-Bellingall