5th May 2023
Five jockeys who recently rode out in the prestigious Punchestown Horseracing Festival also visited renal patients undergoing dialysis treatment at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) during the festival. The jockeys took part in a special fundraising race for the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund (PKRF) which provides funds for a specific arts and health programme for patients undergoing kidney dialysis at TUH.
Professor Catherine Wall, Consultant Nephrologist at TUH, who took the jockeys on a tour of the Vartry Renal Unit, explained that “for many patients, our arts and health programme offers a very valuable distraction during their dialysis sessions which can feel tedious and repetitive. The programme takes place three times a week and has been running now for many years. We are grateful for the valuable support provided by the PKRF, which allows us to continue this worthwhile initiative.”
Katie McManmon, one of the jockeys taking part in this year’s race, and who was among the group visiting TUH, explained that she wanted to ride in the charity race after watching a close colleague suffering from kidney failure. Katie, who works as a horse racing coach in the Racing Academy in the Curragh, explains that in her first “proper job, the Head Man at the stables I worked in had a problem with his kidneys. It gave me an important insight into the very real hardship caused by the disease.”
The PKRF Charity was founded by James Nolan the owner of the Nolan’s butchers in Kilcullen, Co Kildare. James says his life was “transformed” after his sister donated a kidney to him in 1987:
“Prior to that I knew nothing other than hospitals, diets and medications. After I recovered I wanted to help others. It was great to visit TUH and see first-hand how patients are benefiting from the funds we have raised.”
Alison Baker Kerrigan, Arts Officer at TUH, paid tribute to the ongoing support provided by the charity noting the jockeys had “improved the hospital experience for kidney dialysis patients by making the arts accessible to all.” She continued: “Our artist in residence Lucia Barnes, who facilitates the patient art sessions, does an amazing job of listening to the patients’ likes and needs before working with them to create a piece of art that is both enjoyable and important to them. Lucia’s combined skillset as both a qualified nurse and professional artist is hugely beneficial to all involved.”
The charity horserace set up by the PKRF is now in its 32nd year and to date has raised over €1.7 million euro for patients suffering kidney failure. This year 71 amateur jockeys applied for just 25 places to take part in the final race of the festival.