AFTER years of arduous drives, discomfort and plain inconvenience, a group of South Warwickshire renal patients have got together to build a kidney unit in Stratford.

The group all have, or used to have, regular dialysis and for many of them this means several journeys a week to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry to spend hours attached to a machine.

In a bid to help future sufferers from having to make the trips, the team is trying to raise £200,000 to build a unit in the town, but needs more help before it can continue.

Caroline Watson, of Luddington, who is chairman of the new Stratford and Warwick Renal Unit fund-raising committee, had the idea for the unit after she developed kidney problems.

"Walsgrave is the nearest unit to the Stratford district and patients from as far away as Shipston have to travel there, and so I thought a unit in Stratford would be the best idea," she said.

Although Mrs Watson and fellow fund-raiser Hazel Mitchell, of Salford Priors, are now able to have their dialysis on machines at home, certain types of disease mean hospital trips are vital.

Committee member Carolyn Russam, of Luddington, has to travel to Walsgrave four times per week and said it is not just the tiring nature of the treatment that makes the trips uncomfortable.

"You are not supposed to drive yourself, so I have to rely on my husband and taxis to take me and it is very tiring," she said.

"You cannot work full-time and holidays are a problem and it would be so much easier if you didn't have to make that long trip several times a week."

As well as raising the cash, the group wants to offer support to fellow sufferers and their families and carers at the same time - a policy of care they are hoping will pass into the new unit.

"We wanted to get a list of other sufferers in the area, but obviously because of patient confidentiality we can't get one from the hospital, so we are hoping people will read the paper and see that we can help," said Mrs Wilson.

Sheila Forman, who has had a transplant but is still keen to help, added: "We have a whole heap of fund-raising things in the future so as well as giving us a hand, they might just enjoy themselves as well!"

If you would like to help with the fund-raising or would like some help from the group, call Mrs Watson on 01789 293295 or Mrs Russam on 01789 750850.