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27 October 2021

Henry Kimbell’s personal story inspired his race sponsorship at Newbury on Saturday. He talks here about his serious health challenges and his new venture, Galloping To Give.

Prior to the pandemic, I had been thinking about establishing myself more formally within racing. Like for many people, the pandemic pushed me into re-evaluating my lifestyle and I decided to make the step from a secure role to something more adventurous yet uncertain. And so, at the end of 2020, Galloping To Give was born.   

Put simply, the company’s raison d’étre is to provide winning horseracing experiences for charities and companies. I felt there was a gap in the racing hospitality market to utilise my connections within the industry, alongside a near decade of working in fundraising and partnership charity positions. From behind-the-scenes stable tours to a day at the sales with a Bloodstock Agent and running explanatory racedays – it’s all about lifting the lid and giving outsiders greater access.   

Race sponsorship a perfect fit

Our first foray into race sponsorship didn’t disappoint. Not only did the jockey of the moment, Hollie Doyle, win the Galloping To Give 10 Years with a Transplant Stakes but also the exposure and awareness we were able to provide a new business was vital, especially in the midst of a challenging environment.  

The interview on Racing TV was excellent airtime and allowed me to explain how Galloping To Give can be of assistance to businesses and charities as they look to plan their 2022 strategies. Our intention is to work more closely with Newbury next year so we can offer added-value experiences at their course for those organisations based either in London or on the M3/M4 corridor.

Back at the beginning  

Racing isn’t in my family, but I was fortunate enough to be brought up not far from Lambourn so would always attend their annual Open Days. My family were owners in small syndicates from as young as I can remember with trainers, including Kim Bailey, Alan King and Henrietta Knight. We probably had the worst rated horse in the latter’s yard at the time of Best Mate being in his pomp – talk about managing your expectations! 

I have followed the sport ever since going racing all around the country and making some wonderful memories. One horse my family co-owned was a Cheltenham Festival winner, Nenuphar Collonges in 2008 – a day that will live long in the memory. I have my own small involvements now with trainers, including Tom Clover, Alex Hales and Jonny Portman, which give me much interest and excitement.  

A decade on from my transplant

I have a genetic kidney condition which caused the gradual decline of my kidney function and then aged seventeen I went into end stage renal (kidney) failure. The two options available to you when this key organ stops working are dialysis (replacing your kidney function to a maximum of 15%-20%) or a transplant where someone else’s kidney is transplanted into you. It’s been a roller coaster time since my kidney function reached this critical stage back in 2003, however I am pleased to say that my health is good at the moment and hopefully this transplant continues to serve me well for another ten years, if possible!  

Health awareness vital for us all 

I would be thrilled if mindsets were changed in terms of how people – and particularly those around my age in their 20s and 30s – consider their health and any symptoms. If you notice anything unusual about your own body, then go to your GP and get it checked. No-one likes admitting they might have an issue however you know your body best; early intervention always puts you in the best possible place to recover.  

To give you an example, I noticed a small lump in my right armpit at the end of last year. I sat on it for probably three days and then went to my GP to get it checked. After referring me to Addenbrookes Hospital for a biopsy and a scan, it was sadly confirmed I had Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer than affects about 2000 people annually. Thankfully, the team there acted very quickly, and I was on chemotherapy within a week, fast forward seven months, I am pleased to say my treatment was successful and at the moment my cancer has disappeared, and I am able to return to my life. If I had I not acted upon that lump sooner and left it for four to six weeks, god knows what would have been the outcome.

To help document my hospital experience and give me something to focus on, I would either write or upload video blogs onto my Instagram account. Now I have about 20 blogs charting my journey – all a bit strange now but it was so helpful at the time. Hopefully it can continue to be useful to recently diagnosed people in the future.  

My next challenges

From a professional perspective, I have spent most of the past decade working in fundraising roles for medium sized charities. I would try and incorporate racing wherever possible as it is such a philanthropic sport; I organised a range of successful charity racedays, asking trainers to donate prizes to auctions and also setting up a couple of charity syndicates including one with Richard Pitman (former jockey and BBC Racing Correspondent) back in 2012 just after he had been a kidney donor, which raised £20,000 for Kidney Research UK. 

After my own raceday, I have set myself two challenges – one to raise £20,000 for the Addenbrookes Charitable Trust and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ charity, which are connected to the two hospitals who have looked after me and given me so much specialist care. It’s now my turn to help and support them.  If you would like to make a donation please click here.  Furthermore, next summer, I will be retracing the steps that my donor kidney took back in 2011 as I walk the route between Guy’s Hospital and Addenbrookes Hospital.  

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