Ulster cricketers get on their bikes to support Andy Patterson who faces rest of his life in wheelchair

A group of Ulster cricketers are lending their support to a former Ireland international who is preparing for life in a wheelchair due a rare hereditary disorder.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 9:40 am
A reunion of Irish internationals, from left, Derek Heasley, Allan Rutherford, Andy Patterson, Kyle McCallan, Mark Patterson, Neil Doak

A dozen of Andy Patterson’s friends plan to cycle 403 kilometres around every cricket club in the Northern Cricket Union in 24 hours to raise money for the former Cliftonville CC player who went on to play for Surrey.

One of those friends is Kyle McCallan, who like Andy is a teacher who has represented Ireland on many occasions.

Kyle and Andy have known each other since they were schoolboys, but cricket wasn’t the sport that first brought them together.

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Andy Patterson (wicket keeper) in action for Ireland against Australia

Kyle said: “Andy went to Carnmoney Primary and I went to Mossley. We played a bit of district football together and got to know each other.

“When I went to Cliftonville as a 12-year-old the Pattersons were there and Andy and I grew very close.

“We played Ulster Schools, Irish Schools, right through to playing for Ireland together. He got a gig in Surrey and moved to England. We didn’t see just as much of each other then but we’ve stayed in touch.”

Andy played cricket as a wicket keeper/batsman and enjoyed successful spells at Surrey and Sussex County Clubs. Living in London, Andy taught PE at two local schools, passing on his love for sport.

Kyle McCallan, Andy Patterson, Paul McCrum, Mark Patterson and Ryan Eagleson at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in 1998

In March 2013 he was diagnosed with Spastic Paraplegia – a rare hereditary disorder which will result in wheelchair confinement. As a result Andy’s livelihood and family life have been changed beyond recognition.

Kyle said: “Andy isn’t able to teach any more. He’s in an admin role now. It’s obviously had implications in terms of his salary and there’s significant costs in terms of renovating his house.

“There was an initial GoFundMe done by a friend of Andy’s. It went well and we felt as a group of friends here from the cricketing community to do something as a show of support.

“Whether we raise our target or not, we don’t know. We’ve set ourselves a fairly ambitious £15,000.

“It’s been good for bringing all the boys together. Andy’s living in London, we’re living here. You don’t keep in touch as much as you should. In many ways it’s been a great catalyst for the guys to pull a bit closer again.”

Kyle added: “Andy has battled this very courageously.

“For somebody who was on the cover of Men’s Health magazine – a fit, strong, fabulous sportsman to be going through what he’s going through mentally as well as physically is very, very tough.”

Covid restrictions depending ‘Pedal 4 Patto’ is planned for Saturday, April 10, starting at Monaghan CC and finishing at Carrick, visiting 32 clubs in total on the day.

You can follow online on Twitter (@pedalforpatto), Instagram (@pedal4patto) and Facebook (Pedal4Patto)

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