A kidney transplant patient supported by the Neil Hudgell Trust scooped a silver and bronze medal at the World Transplant Games.
Mark Swift, 42, underwent life-changing surgery in August 2013 after suffering kidney problems since 1994. Since then, the father-of-two, who has always had a love of sport but was hampered through his ill health, has won back his fitness and secured selection to represent his country.
Mark recently travelled to the World Transplant Games in Argentina, securing a silver medal in the high jump and a bronze medal in the long jump, as well as finishing sixth in 100m.
It came after winning gold medals in high jump and long jump, as well as bronze in 100m, at the British Transplant Games in Gateshead a month earlier.
Mark, of North Ferriby, East Yorkshire, said the experience was one he will never forget, as the trip was made possible thanks to a £1,000 discretionary grant from the Neil Hudgell Trust, alongside other financial support.
He said: “The grant helped me to get to Argentina and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from the Trust. The experience was absolutely amazing and the standard of compeition was higher than I ever expected in all sports.
“The amount of nationalities there was amazing and we tried to mix as much as possible during our time there. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m really proud to come home with two medals.”
Mark, an engineering manager who travelled to Argentina with his brother, Andrew, found climbing the stairs tough before his transplant, constantly battling fatigue.
The World Transplant Games, supported by the International Olympic Committee, represents the largest organ donor awareness event in the world, featuring a week of 13 sporting events.
Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland joined more than 800 other transplant athletes from 44 countries across the globe.
Mark now has his sights set on competing in the next World Transplant Games in Malaga in 2017.
He said: “I want to compete in some other events too, such as golf and volleyball. I did a lot of training for Argentina but I will keep going for Malaga.
“My family are all really proud of me, which is lovely because it’s a big thing.”
The games also aim to raise awareness of organ donation, as there are 10,000 people in need of a transplant across the UK.
Lynne Holt, Transplant Sport Team Manager, said: “The World Transplant Games are a great opportunity for our transplant athletes to compete at an international level, to share their stories and inspire people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
“The British and World Transplant Games would not be possible without the generosity of the organ donors who ensure that these athletes can demonstrate the benefits of lifesaving transplantation.”
A total of £100,000 is made available to community grants and projects making a positive difference across East Yorkshire by the Neil Hudgell Trust each year, with grants of up to £5,000 available.
Some individual applications, including Mark’s, fall short of the Trust’s selection criteria, but can be awarded discretionary grants in cases where the Trust’s panel feels the individual is deserving of support.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the Trust, said: “It’s great to hear Mark has returned home with two medals from the World Transplant Games. To reach this level of sporting success, you need to be really dedicated and Mark has shown how determined he is.
“We wish him well with following his sporting dreams in the future.”