Living with cystic fibrosis was once described by sufferer Kieran Miller as ‘like playing five-a-side football for seven hours.’ Sadly he lost his battle with the illness earlier this year. As his family plan a 24-hour football match in his honour, they tell NATALIE WALKER about their tributes to a man who touched the hearts of so many.
Kieran Miller, of Ribbleton, Preston, was determined not to let his cystic fibrosis stop him leading a normal life.
As a keen footballer, he gave up his spare time to coach under-nines at Ribbleton FC and had also worked part-time as a teaching assistant at Sherburn School before it changed to Sir Tom Finney Community High School (STFCH), supporting children with special needs.
There were times when he was tired and he had to take medication every day, as well as undergo physiotherapy.
Sadly, despite a double lung transplant three years ago, Kieran’s condition took a turn for the worse and he died on April 14 at the age of 29.
His dad, Andrew Miller, says: “His death was totally unexpected and has been very difficult for us as a family: his mum, Anne, step mum, Debbie, stepdad, Bruce, his girlfriend, Sammi, and his brothers and sisters: Owen, Andrew, Ami, Jodie, Reiss, Rheannah and Nathalie and his godchildren Renae and Keaton.
“But now we are focusing on raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and highlighting the need for organ donations.
“We want our fundraising to be a success to make it a legacy for Kieran.”
Kieran’s mum, Anne Stewart, adds: “From the day Kieran was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, I dedicated my life to caring for him to give him the best possible life I could.
“I trained in so many areas to help Kieran stay away from hospitals but sometimes it couldn’t be prevented.
“Kieran was such an inspiration to us all in what he wanted to do and could do. He let nothing stand in his way.
“I am so proud of Kieran and the way he handled his illness.
“He never ever complained about anything and when he was admitted in hospital he was always a keen help to other patients.
“I will miss my son so much words cannot describe. I will always continue to believe Kieran is beside me in everything I do and everywhere I go.
“I loved him so much - he was one in million to me.”
Despite having to take more than 100 tablets a day, along with 10 nebulisers, Kieran tried to live a normal life as much as he could.
But his illness was getting progressively worse all the time and before he had his double lung transplant, he had to wear an oxygen mask 24 hours a day.
He had a double lung transplant three years ago after being on the list for 11 weeks.
Andrew adds: “Doctors said if he had not had that transplant, he would have had six months to live.
“Without that transplant we would not have had him for three extra years.”
Sadly, his condition deteriorated further and he spent a large part of his time at Wythanshawe Hospital in Manchester.
On April 4 he was admitted to Royal Preston Hospital as he was struggling to breathe.
Andrew adds: “He had to be put on a ventilator and we expected him to come out of hospital as normal.
“But he deteriorated from there and died on April 14.”
One of Kieran’s biggest passions was football and before his condition stopped him, he loved passing that joy onto others through his coaching.
Anne says: “If he had a football in his hand Kieran was happy.
“Kieran was brilliant around children. When he worked at Sherburn school he supported young adults as well as young children at PE.
“No matter how difficult it was for Kieran to help the students to have a good PE lesson Kieran always made it fun for all of them.”
Andrew adds: “Ribbleton FC could not believe how much time he gave up to coach youngsters.
“He even spent his own money on items for the players.
“He was always thinking of others, rather than himself.
“He touched a lot of people in his 29 years, which was shown by the massive turn-out to his funeral.
“He was certainly well liked. Everybody loved him, it was impossible not to.”
Kieran’s step-dad, Bruce Lawrenson, adds: “Kieran was a wind-up merchant and loved to laugh. You certainly knew when Kieran was around.
“He never complained about his condition or asked for sympathy. You would never know he was ill.”
Just a few weeks after Kieran’s death, his brother-in-law, Phil Cain, came up with the idea of a 24-hour charity match to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The challenge was borne out of attempting to understand how Kieran felt with his illness, as he once described it as ‘like playing a five-a-side football match for seven hours.’
The match will kick off at 10am on Saturday August 5 at Preston Grasshoppers.
Andrew adds: “I will be wearing Kieran’s football boots and family members will start the match off.
“Kieran’s friend Michael Finch, of Preston, who has cystic fibrosis will kick-off. He won’t be able to play but it will be nice to have him there.
“It won’t be an easy day physically or mentally, but it is nothing compared to what Kieran went through in his life.
“That is why a number of us want to be there for the whole 24 hours.
“It is a small price compared to what Kieran had to endure.
“We want people to come down and enjoy the day with us in Kieran’s honour.
“We want to honour Kieran, as he did a lot of charity work.
“He had previously done a skydive and gone on a zip wire across Manchester United football ground for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and collected donations on their behalf.
“For us, it is about carrying on his work.”
The charity match will be accompanied by a family fun day to boost morale and keep the teams motivated.
There will be a bouncy castle, stalls, hook-a-duck, raffles and even a donkey.
The family is also hoping some ex-Preston North End players will play.
Bruce says: “Ribbleton FC will be bringing some young players down, so they will take up around four hours.
“We are expecting 2,000 people to attend. We can’t believe the interest we have had on Facebook already.
“We still need players, especially for the time period from 2am until 8am, which won’t be easy.
“Anyone can play - we will have teams for children and for women. Kieran would have wanted children involved.
“We want to make the day about more than just football so we have a fun day to welcome families.
“We have booked entertainment to keep people occupied in the day and so they will stay as long as possible.
“We really appreciate the prizes we have been given for the raffle.
“We want to thank every one for the support they have given us and the sponsors who are helping to make this happen.
“We also want to thank Ribbleton FC who have even named a trophy in his honour.”
Anne adds: “I would like to personally thank Sarah Leaman and Kerry Clarke from STFCH for their loyal support throughout the whole process and they have been a massive help to me and still are.”
To register interest in playing on August 5 or 6, or if anyone wants to sponsor the event, e-mail: email@example.com.
The closing date is July 19.
To make a donation visit https://give.everydayhero.com/uk/24hoursforkieran/wizard/share
For previous stories on Kieran click here /i-was-only-given-six-months-to-live-before-transplant-1-7687661