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Kenny - Belfast member

Kenny - Belfast member

An inspirational member of the Bannatyne Health Club and Spa Belfast, Kenny Cloke, has set himself the challenge of swimming 21 lengths of the health club pool to celebrate his 21st birthday.

His endeavours are part of a campaign by his family to raise the £5,000 needed to buy a new generation powered wheelchair to help him maintain his independence.

The 20-year-old, whose birthday is on April 5, has a degenerative and progressive condition called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

 He currently attends the further and higher education college, Belfast Met, on an access course in biological science with ambitions to study zoology at Queen’s University, Belfast.

He uses a manual wheelchair for internal use, but this is less safe and restrictive in many outdoor settings.

 His family say he needs to have the ability to get to and from college or university safely, be able to get on and off public transport and be able to go out with his friends without having to have ‘his old fogies’ do it for him.

They are determined to enable him to improve his independence and give him more dignity with the use of a powered wheelchair.

Kenny currently is swimming at the Bannatyne Health Club three times a week to build up his stamina to complete 21 lengths in the seven days running up to his birthday.

Kenny said: “I am well into my swimming training and thanks to the encouragement and backing of people, including staff at Bannatyne’s, I am confident that I will be able to reach my 21-length target.

 “My family and I are overwhelmed by how generous and supportive people are being.”

Terence Cullen, manager of the health club at Mertoun Hall, Belfast Road, Holywood, said: “Kenny is an inspiration with his ‘never give up ‘positive attitude, his remarkable resilience and outlook to life in spite of facing hardships that can make being independent difficult.

“We are delighted that we are playing a part in his swimming challenge and wish him every success in reaching his 21 lengths and fundraising goals.”

Other events in aid of the cause include family friend David Craig running a 28-mile endurance race in the Northumberland countryside.

Kenny likes to watch football, rugby, tennis and cricket and as well as swimming he plays table tennis. His other interests are the natural world, animals, and conservation.

To contribute to the fundraising efforts visit: