The team of paraplanners work for Charles Derby Financial Services which has had a fundraising partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK since January 2015.
Julia Deamer, 58, from Longfield in Kent, said: “I began taking part in parkrun on a Saturday morning at 9am with my work colleagues. Since January this year I’ve been doing a parkrun almost every weekend as training, and going out running with my dog and my son who was training for the full Brighton Marathon.
“When my sister, Brenda, was around 69 she started forgetting things so she began attending a memory clinic at her local hospital. I just thought that it was just a memory problem but she got gradually worse and worse over the three years she visited the clinic. Finally, last year she had an MRI which showed she had early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Her husband, Stephen, is very well-educated about dementia and has been fantastic at looking after her, but it’s very upsetting to think that if she had a diagnosis sooner maybe we could have done more to help her and got her involved in research more quickly. She’s on a clinical trial at the moment and it’s good that she’s making a contribution to medical research.”
Julia added: “Raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK is so important because we need a way to stop the heartbreak caused by Alzheimer’s disease. I would love to see people with dementia able to get a quicker diagnosis and more opportunities to take part in research studies to help find a treatment or cure.”
Dementia is caused by brain diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease, which result in the death of brain cells and weaken the brain’s ability to function properly. Early symptoms can include problems with memory and thinking, but as brain cell death becomes more widespread, physical functions such as walking and even swallowing can be affected.
Stephen Whittle, Brenda’s husband and carer who lives in Tottenham, talked about the trial Brenda is currently taking part in, and both the hope and challenges it has created for the family.
Stephen said: “Brenda has been generally quite well, but her loss of short-term memory makes things very difficult for both her and me. She has only got lost once when she was out by herself, but as the disease progresses, she will eventually need to be accompanied when outside the house.
“When Brenda was diagnosed she decided to take part in a research study to test a new drug that might stop or slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. We don’t know whether Brenda is on a high dose of the drug, a low dose, or the placebo, and of course the trial will determine whether the drug does halt the progress of the disease.”
He added: “Generally Brenda is quite well and in a good mood, but it must be so difficult for her to cope with the knowledge that she has such a terrible disease. But we do have the consolation that we are making a contribution to the progress of medical science.”
Yosra Osman, Corporate Partnerships Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Alzheimer’s Research UK are delighted that Julia and her team from Charles Derby have raised so much for us through running the Brighton 10k. We are working every day to improve diagnosis and find a treatment to slow down or stop the progression of this cruel disease.
“With over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and an estimated 21,120 in Kent alone, the need for research to defeat dementia has never been greater.”
The study is one of many current clinical trials which have the aim of finding a treatment to slow down or stop the progress of dementia.
To find out what dementia research is going on in your area or to sign up to play your own part in research to defeat dementia visit www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk or call the Alzheimer’s Research UK Infoline on 0300 111 5111.
For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org.