As you all know from my recent blogs on dementia and Hadrian’s Wall: this year I am trying to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia support and research charity. There are so many worthwhile causes in this world that I would love to support, however, instead of spreading myself thinly amongst several, each year I have decided to concentrate on the one cause. This singular focus will hopefully enable me to make a greater impact. This year my chosen cause is dementia.
A lot of people consider dementia and Alzheimer’s to be a symptom of old age, however, dementia is not a natural part of ageing – it is in fact a life altering disease that affects a whopping 850,000 people in the UK. The most frustrating part of this is that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are struggling to pay for the cost of care because, unlike other diseases, people with dementia are not entitled to free healthcare on the NHS.
As part of my fundraising objectives this year, see previous blog “My Hadrian’s Wall Marathon Trek”, I set out on a challenge to walk 26 miles of the incredibly scenic Hadrian’s Wall, running from Coast to Coast, stretching from Wallsend on the East coast of England to Bowness-on-Solway on the West coast.
The World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most peaceful and beautiful hikes you can embark upon in England. Therefore, to be able to do this while also raising awareness about – and money for – Alzheimer’s Society, was an achievement that I knew I’d be proud of.
On Sunday 27th August 2017, my partner and I walked the most challenging stretch of the wall. Well, 20 miles of it. I am disappointed to report that I unfortunately did not manage the entire 26 miles, however, Paul and I did not stop until we were broken and the night was threatening to surround us.
After we finally stopped for our first proper meal of the day at 7pm (eating mere snacks since breakfast), we were casually informed that the stretch of the wall we had just walked was the most difficult of the entire 74 miles.
“Although most of the terrain is relatively easy, the 23-mile central section between Chollerford and Birdoswald is hilly with a series of short, sharp climbs and descents following in quick succession.” **
Therefore, we may not have finished the entire 26 miles, but I felt consolidated that the section I had chosen was considered the hardest and most demanding stretch of the entire wall. A stretch that I would recommend to any hiking enthusiast; as it may have been tough, but it was truly the most beautiful.
That said: the last mile was the longest mile I had ever walked. I had collected a couple of blisters along the way and my left knee and right hip had started to make the constant accents and descents increasingly painful. Finally, on what we decided would be the last mile, my blister burst on one foot, my knee refused to function on the other, and at one point I decided it was less painful to continue on my hands and knees. Crawling along the beautiful mountains, giggling away, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that my body was defying me when my mind and heart wanted to continue through the evening. Unfortunately, my body won and we ended the walk at Once Brewed.
I may not have completed the entire 26-mile challenge, however, this was the most enjoyable and rewarding hike I have completed. Even though Paul and I were walking for 10 hours with very few stops, I felt motivated, happy and determined the entire way. Knowing that I had received such incredible encouragement and donations from those who had faith in me and had supported my cause provided me with the determination to continue and to raise awareness for those who battle each day with dementia.
In July, I set a target of £333 for my walk and I am proud to say not only did I meet this, but I exceeded this – and thanks to your support I raised £363.69 for Alzheimer’s Society. I could not have done this without you.
I just want to thank those who donated from the bottom of my heart; I am eternally grateful for your encouragement and even when my knees decided they no longer wanted to climb, I managed to continue until my body decided enough was enough, because of you.
So – truly – thank you!
Call to action: Please spread the word of Alzheimer’s Society to at least one other person today and let’s see if we can help this charity to provide the support needed by over 850,000 people in the UK diagnosed with dementia.
If you would like to get involved, Alzheimer’s Society are hosting various “Memory Walks” across the UK. These walks start at 2km and can be up to 10km depending on the location. Visit https://www.memorywalk.org.uk/ and sign up for your nearest walk today.
Don’t fancy the walk? You can also get involved as a volunteer – stand at the line and cheer on the walkers… your help can make a difference.
“Memory Walk is a sponsored walk for all ages and abilities to unite together to raise money to defeat dementia. The walks are spread across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and each walk will take on a different route through either a city, woodlands or a park.”