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Thomas the Baker to raise money for Kidney Research UK as its charity of the year

Chain of bakery stores has personal link to the charity, following manager Chris Chapman’s battle with kidney disease

Thomas the Baker has announced its new charity of the year following a staff vote, with the chain of bakery stores choosing to support Kidney Research UK. 

The company has a very personal link to the charity through Quality Assurance Manager Chris Chapman, who received a kidney transplant back in 2009.

The family business, which has 30 bakery stores across Yorkshire and Teesside, along with the Thomas of Helmsley deli, will raise funds for the charity through a variety of activities, including producing special cakes and biscuits, selling merchandise and sponsored activities such as walks and quizzes.

There are three million people in the UK with kidney disease and there is no known cure. One million of those affected aren’t even aware they have disease. Kidney Research UK relies almost wholly on donations which they use to fund breakthroughs in diagnosis, treatment and patient care for those affected by kidney disease.

Chris Chapman was 43 in 2003 when he went for an annual health check. High blood pressure raised the need for further investigations, which revealed he had Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease. This meant that cysts were growing on the inside of his kidneys which would decrease the function of the kidney until they stopped working altogether. The disease is a hereditary one, affecting males only, which Chris later discovered had led to the death of his father when he was seven.

Chris, who has worked at Thomas the Baker since 1982, commented: “At the point of diagnosis, my life changed completely. There were regular hospital visits, endless blood tests and major lifestyle changes. Over the following couple of years, my kidney function decreased until it reached seven per cent which meant I had to go on dialysis. I chose peritoneal dialysis which meant I was able to do it myself after some training and an operation to insert a tube into my stomach. I was left with a foot-long piece of tubing outside of my stomach through which I attached himself to a dialysis machine for 10 hours every night. All this time I was determined to carry on working and trying to have as normal a life as possible.”

In 2009, having spent three years on dialysis, Chris got the call for a transplant, and although recovery took time and there were bumps in the road, the transplant was a success.

Chris continued: “Apart from the hospital visits, the regular blood tests and the tablets life is now as normal as could be – apart from one thing. My transplanted kidney is nine years old and the average life for a transplanted kidney is 10-15 years. So, there is always that nagging doubt in my mind that one day soon that kidney might fail, which is why the research and development must go on. That is why I am so delighted that the staff at Thomas’ have voted to have Kidney Research UK as their charity of the year. Every penny counts, and there are literally hundreds of different types of kidney disease, so there’s a lot to be done.”

Beccy Boyle, Community Fundraiser at Kidney Research UK, added: “It’s a real honour to have been chosen as Thomas the Baker’s charity of the year. Thousands of kidney patients go through the kind of journey that Chris has experienced, and some are not so lucky. The support of Thomas’ staff and customers will make a huge difference to these patients, their families and the future of research.”