University of East Anglia student dons walking shoes to help charity close to her heart

Kathryn Holeywell (left) and friend, Anja Gronvold, will be walking together to show their support f

Kathryn Holeywell (left) and friend, Anja Gronvold, will be walking together to show their support for IBD sufferers; Photo credit: Submitted. - Credit: Archant

A student from the University of East Anglia in Norwich is showing her support for people suffering with a debilitating bowel condition after she was hospitalised for nearly a month.

Kathryn Holeywell, 33, moved to Norwich in 2002 from Texas, America, to study at the UEA with hopes of pursuing an academic career.

But in 2010 her health began to deteriorate.

She said: 'I began experiencing symptoms – constant bloody diarrhoea – that I now know are signs of the autoimmune disease ulcerative colitis.

'I ignored my deteriorating bowels because I was too embarrassed. My symptoms persisted for close to a year and it reached the point that I was running to the bathroom 40 times a day. I was absolutely housebound.'

Eventually, in 2011, a close friend persuaded her to go to the accident and emergency department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N).

'She no doubt saved my life. I had lost two stone and was facing a blood transfusion.'

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Ms Holeywell, of Fishergate, in the city centre, was then admitted to the N&N for four weeks before being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.

Now, to show her support for other sufferers, she will be taking part in a 10k walk around London on June 28 for the charity Crohn's and Colitis UK.

She said: 'I want to raise as much money as possible for this charity, not only to fund further medical research but also to raise awareness about the disease.

'I feel very blessed that I'm well enough to be able to walk 10k. I spent too much time hiding out, terrified of leaving the house for fear of needing to urgently use the toilet.'

Ms Holeywell has so far raised £942 and hopes to reach her target of £1,500. She will be completing the walk with her friend Anja Gronvold.

• To sponsor the duo visit the just giving website

• Are you doing something exciting to raise money for charity? Contact reporter Donna-Louise Bishop via Twitter @donnaloubishop or email

About World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day.

• Worldwide, five million people live with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

• World IBD Day is marked on May 19 each year.

• It is led by an organisation representing 35 countries on four continents.

• IBD is comprised of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis two serious, chronic digestive diseases.

• Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis directly affect the digestive system and cause intestinal tissue to become inflamed, form sores and bleed easily.

• There is no cure and no known cause.