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Swim Coach Kenny's Brain Cancer Appeal

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Hello, my name is Claire & Kenny Hickey is my husband.

Kenny has stage 4 Multifocal Glioblastoma.

This fundraiser is Kenny's wish & I write for him, his last colossal effort to care for us, save our home & protect our son's future.

We met thirty years ago when we were both going to mutual friends' Midsummer Party in Devon. I was nannying for a family in Chelsea & a friend ( thank you, Margaret Knott) suggested I hitch a lift with a lovely photographer she knew.

Kenny turned up on my doorstep in his lycra running kit (those who know, know); I had the customary bare feet, a basket of eggs & a string of garlic from a recent trip to France.

That long journey to Dartmouth on a gorgeous summer's day flew by in the blink of an eye. Kenny regaled me with stories; we laughed all the way, windows open, & radio playing. We were happily falling in love already.
Sealed in the stars.

Ten years later, having been told we would never have children, I fell pregnant & our beautiful son Charlie was born in July 2004. Our whole world.

Sadly, my health deteriorated over the next few years, and I was diagnosed with Multiple Giant Hepatic Haemangioma.
Kenny has held the fort often as I have been hospitalised for liver resections, DVTs, neutropenia sepsis etc
He has taken all responsibility for us financially, working all hours, seven days a week, to keep us afloat so that I could look after Charlie and my own health.

In 2018 at Hever Castle, where Kenny has photographed over a hundred weddings we made the commitment to marriage. On the hottest July afternoon in the glorious sunshine, we became man & wife; Charlie was best man & gave me away.
Kenny took the pictures of me himself and cried throughout the whole ceremony. Our beautiful, perfect day.

Kenny is a 70-year-old (going on 15) beautiful, magical human being. A professional photographer and Swimming Coach.
During his remarkable career as a photographer, he covered food photography, editorials, and Royal & Celebrity commissions amongst a fascinating array of work. This included over forty private commissions with Her Majesty The Queen. In addition, he held the position of Head of Photography at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich.

Twelve years ago, Kenny began a new career alongside photography as a swimming instructor & coach. He has taught over 20,000 lessons in that time, until recently teaching at fourteen swim schools, having carved out an excellent reputation as a fabulous, much loved & respected coach. In addition, he achieved the position of one of the lead swim coaches with his own squad at the very successful Sevenoaks Swim Club.

Life was full on for Kenny, sometimes working ten-hour days, seven days a week, but he absolutely thrived on the joy of teaching, the excellent feedback he received and the knowledge that he was taking care of us, of his family.

On the evening of August 19th 2022, our little family's world was turned upside down. At 11 pm, Paramedics called to say that they were taking Kenny by ambulance to Maidstone Hospital following a call that Kenny had collapsed with seizures whilst teaching at Walthamstow Hall School in Sevenoaks.
At 5 am the following morning, following constant seizures with no respite, Kenny was fully sedated, intubated and put on a ventilator.
Charlie and I sat on either side of Kenny's bed, each holding one of his hands..fighting for him, holding him and praying he would come back to us.
When brought round, days later, heartbreakingly, Kenny had no recognition of who we were, couldn't make eye contact or articulate. We were absolutely terrified that we had lost him already.
The day Kenny reached out his hand to me and said 'hello baby' with the mischievous twinkle in his eyes that everyone knows and loves was a moment so momentous; I will never forget it and always be eternally grateful for it.
Charming the hospital staff and the incredible medical team surrounding him, Kenny began a remarkable recovery & was soon reclaiming speech, memories and mobilisation.
However, the very hardest part was yet to come; in a little family room, holding each other tightly, we received devastating news.
Scans had revealed two lesions on the frontal lobe of Kenny's brain. A large area on the right-hand side & a smaller one to the left with much swelling of the surrounding tissue. The consensus being they were very likely late-stage, fast-growing, aggressive brain tumours.
Our world crumbled as we digested the enormity of this information and what the future now held for the man we so love, for us.
After twelve days at Maidstone ITU, we were referred to Kings College Hospital London & on September 5th 2022, Kenny underwent a brain biopsy. Charlie & I stayed very close by in a little room above a pub, a kind gesture funded by an old friend of Kenny's.
After the most traumatic and devastating month possible, we brought Kenny home.
He is struggling hugely, and every day is harder still, with even the most minor task seemingly unsurmountable.
The most part of every day spent in bed, mobilising is increasingly challenging, and cognitive function waning. Sleep evades us all.
Diabetes is a new challenge this week, with constant finger prick testing and trying to juggle insulin injection units with ever-changing steroid doses.
Midweek we received a call from one of our designated oncology nurses at Kings College Hospital.
We already knew in our hearts, but to hear the diagnosis Stage 4 Multifocal Glioblastoma, inoperable, incurable, terminal really broke each of our hearts.

To know Kenny is to love him & I know that so many of you reading this hold him in your hearts.
Friends, family & strangers who have been moved by Kenny's story, we kindly ask for your donations and to share our story far and wide to help ease the terrible financial burden placed on our little family at this time.

From the moment Kenny collapsed & was unable to work, as our chief breadwinner, we were left without any source of income. As 24 hr caregiver to Kenny now and in very poor health myself, the future is terrifying. We no longer have any means to cover our mortgage repayments and other outgoings.

I am juggling caregiving with emailing, writing letters and telephoning mortgage lenders, utilities etc., to try & buy us time in our little flat, our home of twenty years.

The home we built up together, the home we brought up our son in, the home I will nurse Kenny in.
Kenny's last wish is to reach out to ask for your support in helping us to save our home for our son so that he has some security for the future & so we have something left of our life to hold on to.
Kenny's days are spent forever worrying about what will happen to us once he has left us & his last wish is to feel secure in the knowledge that we will be safe .

Any help you are able to provide will enable Kenny and us to focus on our remaining time together, his care and peace of mind whilst we navigate this incredibly heartbreaking time.

Most of all, we ask you to keep Kenny in your thoughts and prayers. Perhaps contact him with memories or photographs or stories of your times together. He desperately needs us all during this incredibly challenging time in his journey.

We so deeply appreciate you taking the time to read our story & for your support, love & prayers

With Our Love

Claire , Kenny & Charlie xxxxxx



  • Anonymous
    • £100 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • £50 
    • 1 yr
  • Alastair Goodwin
    • £20 
    • 2 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • £50 
    • 2 yrs
  • Nicola Linton Briggs
    • £25 
    • 2 yrs

Fundraising team (2)

Claire Louise Vernon
Charlie Vernon-Hickey
Team member

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