Sunday, April 29, 2018

It's Good to Talk

The last couple of weeks have been quite exciting what with the announcement about the Dementia Revolution for 2019, the commencement of another fund-raiser with Parkrun and the release of an updated 'Share the Orange' campaign.

Share the Orange

Let's start with the video, narrated by Bryan Cranston:

I love the simplicity of the analogy and I feel it's very powerful as an aid to explaining, in an easy to understand format, what happens when dementia takes hold in a brain.  I showed this (with Mike's help!) at the end of the talk I gave in our local church the week before and it was well received.

Talking at the Church of St James the Great

The beautiful church in our village has featured on my blog many times before - when I decorated a Christmas tree for the festival  (see Dressing the tree with memories & Crocheted Memories - I can hardly believe that was 6 years ago!) and for Village in Bloom both sprang to mind immediately.

Last year they introduced a series of monthly talks, either in the afternoon or evening, to help keep  the Church alive and part of the community.  There have been talks about local walks, what happens after Brexit and various other topics.  I was delighted when I was invited to speak about the work I do around dementia other than running as many people would not know how many things I've been involved in over the years.

Jo told me that their audiences have numbered between 8 & 25 and I wasn't entirely convinced that we'd get into double figures as many people were away on holiday/visiting family on the week I was to speak!  I reassured Jo that it really didn't matter as I'm comfortable speaking with small or large groups (although in truth I'm happier with a much larger audience so I can't see people dabbing their eyes during the really sad parts!).

The slot was for 45 minutes and I knew it would be hard to cram everything in so I chose a few key issues to mention and made sure I took my alarm clock with me so I didn't waffle on too long.  Mike came to and acted as setter-up-of-the-video, photographer and supplier of moral support.  Sadly the light from the window behind me was so bright that most of the photos didn't come out well here are a few.  I purposely didn't choose to show slides to such an intimate audience and opted instead for a set of photos and leaflets.

It was a glorious sunny day and Mike and I walked along soaking up the atmosphere in our beautiful village.  As we waited for people to arrive I wandered around inside and took a few photos:

Aaah, tea and cake, excellent but many more cups were needed!!!

Mike setting up the Share the Orange video (more chairs were need too!)

Waiting for people to arrive

Jo makes the introduction

Then I was off.........

I started by giving a brief overview of mum's story as most people there already knew it well from all my fund-raising.  What they didn't know was why I started speaking out about dementia and the specific aspects about which I had major concerns.  As I thought, most people had no idea the sort of things I've been involved in for the last 13 years and I was only able to touch on a small percentage of them as there wasn't time to cover everything.

The main things I spoke about were helping de-stigmatise dementia,  being a Lay Champion for Join Dementia Research , writing countless articles/giving interview for a variety of publications, getting dementia mentioned on Death Certificates, lobbying, speaking at conferences/companies/leisure groups & anyone who would listen and then giving examples of the difference this has made eg the well-known young comedian (who I won't name) who made jokes about Alzheimer's until I wrote to him explaining what it's really like whereupon he apologised as he had no idea, the G7 dementia summit and a few other bits and bobs until I spotted I had 5 minutes left so I asked if anyone had a question.

Yes they did, so many questions, which was wonderful and took us well over the hour mark.
I was especially pleased to chat with a lovely lady who lives in a nearby village and whose husband is in the mid-stage of dementia.  I have since emailed her lots of links which will hopefully be useful and told her she can speak with me whenever she needs some moral support.

The one question I had to answer really carefully came from a neighbour: "Why don't the Alzheimer's Society & Alzheimer's Research UK join forces?".  I wanted to shout and scream the news that they ARE coming together, albeit just for 12 months as Charity of the year at the Virgin London Marathon in 2019 with the Dementia Revolution mentioned above!  But what I had to say instead was they operate in different areas with ARUK being purely focused on research with 84p in every £ donated going straight into research and the remaining 16p being used for overheads & fund-raising efforts etc whilst the Alzheimer's Society deals mostly with the Care side.  He was the first person I emailed as soon as I was allowed to share the news.  He said I should be an actress as I fielded his question very well!

Finally I had a lovely closing message from Christopher who has made a wonderful display of leaflets etc in the church for those who weren't able to attend.

Then it was tea, cake and a catch-up with friends and neighbours.  The added bonus was that everyone made a donation to my fund-raising and the final total was nearly £300 so thank you one and all.

Parkrun - Running Down Dementia campaign 

This is the 3rd year that Parkrun and ARUK have joined forces for this campaign and so far together they have raised almost £500,000 which is absolutely brilliant and has funded 2 major research projects already!

What parkrunners are asked to do is run 100k between April and August and raise £100 (or more of course!).  They can sign up on the Running Down Dementia website and already the total raised is nearly £50,000 already.  At the start of each campaign ARUK Champions are asked to give a brief talk at the start of a parkrun and as I'd already spoken at both Hastings and Tunbridge Wells I chose Bedgebury this time.  It's a beautiful place as you'll see from some of the photos Mike took as he walked around waiting for me.

I'd been sent a tee shirt to wear and some leaflets to hand out too along with briefing notes (which were far too long so I just chose the salient points).

Tee shirt front

Tee shirt back

Front and back of the leaflets

I'd contacted the Race Director to introduce myself and he told me that the marshalls would be there setting up from 8:15 onwards but when we arrived at 8:30 there was only one man and a wheelbarrow full of cones and signs!

We took the opportunity to have a quick walk in the forest and then I decided that I'd better do a warm-up routine which I don't bother with before a marathon.

When the RD arrived I went to meet him and was told that he wasn't going to be the RD that day and it was the lady to his left who would be in charge.

The marshalls arrived gradually and headed off to their appointed spots

There was a lot of hanging around, as always

There were 3 separate starting areas - Cani-cross for people running with dogs (they love it!), people who'd run a parkrun before and first-timers.


By the time came for the RD to issue the instructions I suddenly released there were quite a lot of people there and someone said she'd need to use the megaphone.

Then it was my turn.  

I knew I needed to keep it short and snappy with no waffle so I just stated that was was there representing ARUK, what the campaign is all about, how much had been raised already, told them why their support is important and then thanked them and wished them good luck for their run.  I hoped I'd done it in under 2 minutes as all people want to do is get on with their run.  Mike said later that it was just the right length and I'd got all the salient points in.

As I was speaking I suddenly became aware that everyone had stopped talking and they were all listening to me.  This was a first as at the previous 2 parkruns some people paid no attention and just carried on chatting which is quite rude.  Even better, I got a round of applause and people kept thanking me en-route and saying "well done"!  How lovely.

Then we all headed off to our respective start positions.

It was wonderful to see so many young people taking part.  In fact, the beauty of the Parkrun phenomenon is that it's loved by young and old alike and is inclusive of all abilities.

Then we were off.  I knew it was a somewhat UPdulating route and it started with a long slow drag upwards followed by several more ups and downs.  Whilst I was running, Mike started to walk the route and then turned round after 25 minutes so when I finished I ran back to meet him.

Mike asked me if I'd spotted this tower on my way round, which if course I hadn't 'cos it was high up behind a lot of trees.  He took a photo of it because on a clear day we can see it from our house high up on the hill.  By road it's about 10.5 miles away but less taking a straight line x-country.

On the way back to the car we popped into the cafe and I distributed some leaflets to the captive audience then we headed back to the car park passing this nice en-route.

The beauty of parkrun is that they scan your unique barcode when you finish and the results go up onto the website really quickly.

I had no idea what time I would do as I haven't run a 5k as a race for many years and I don't think I have any 'fast twitch' fibres left in my muscles as I'm adapted to distance running!  As it was undulating I guessed it might be around 35 minutes so was delighted to find that I finished in 31:49.  I was 2nd lady in my age category and 99th out of the field of 146 runners.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

This is it!

I can't tell you how I excited I am to be typing this.

Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK)  and the Alzheimer's Society have joined forces for the next 12 months to create a Dementia Revolution and become the official charity partner at the Virgin London Marathon 2019.

Oh my goodness, I have dreamt about this for 13 years since I ran my first ever London marathon.  Back then ARUK was known as the Alzheimer's Research Trust and the reason I chose to support them rather than the Alzheimer's Society was that they were a small charity with big ideas, such big ideas, about research to cure this dreadful disease.  The charity has now grown into a major force in the fight against dementia and this collaboration with the Alzheimer's Society will bring dementia to the fore and give the cause the high profile it deserves.

If you check out the site you'll find a photo of me here as I gave a list of ideas that have worked for me over the years.  I also shared training tips and I expect the site will evolve over the next 12 months.

You can read more about the alliance here.

This really is a wonderful platform to draw attention to dementia.

A Quick Catch-up

I am sooooooo excited I can hardly wait for tomorrow to share something very exciting here.  However, today I am still sworn to secrecy and so I'll do a quick update of 2 events.

The Tractor Run

What's a 'Tractor Run'? I hear you cry.  It's an event organised by our favourite tree surgeon Chris to raise money for a local hospice in Hastings.

We accidentally caught part of it last year as Mike and I were heading off for a walk when a stream of tractors trundled past us so this year we went to the start to watch them set off.

Now Chris has done lots of tree/hedge/clearing work for us in the past, seen here dangling high up in an oak tree but we didn't know beforehand that he had organised this event - good man!

We walked down to Bodiam about 45 minutes before the start and I waved excitedly to all the tractors going past us on the main road.

The first person I spotted was Katie with 2 of her little ones and doggie.

Then we had a quick chat with Chris before having a wander around to look at all the various shapes and sizes of vehicles.  There seemed to be many more than last year and after a while they started to look the same so we headed off for coffee and cake.

Then everyone started to load up and get into line ready for the off:

Katie made some last minute adjustments before loading the trailer with children and dogs:

Are you bored yet?  Are you even still reading?!!!

 OK, I'll spare you the rest.  The next photos are all taken en-route courtesy of Katie:

When they reached their destination they stopped for lunch before retracing their route back.  Thankfully the weather was kind.

I've just heard from Chris that they raised more than double the amount from last year with a whopping £1000.52 for the hospice.  Well done everyone!

Another Marathon

No, not the London marathon this year although it was on the same day.  It was an event organised by Traviss and Rachel who called it the Rejects Marathon, for anyone who didn't get a place in the London marathon!  I was keen to be there as Rachael was celebrating her 100th marathon and the dress code was tutus and tiaras.

The tutu I had already and I improvised with the tiara by sticking some of my purple tinsel on my cap:

It was fun watching people arriving in a variety of costumes.

Traviss made his usual announcements and Rachel presented the other Rachael (different spelling!) with her special number which we'd all signed.

It was hot and the concrete along the seawall reflected the heat and made it feel even hotter.  I just got my head down and started to grind out the miles.  There was plenty of banter amongst everyone which helped pass the time and Rachael's little group kept stopping to pose for photos:

I did toy with the idea of going ultra and doing 50k but by the last lap all I wanted to do was head home for a bath and a glass of something sparkly so I did a brisk walk for the last lap, whilst taking a few photos, and headed for home.

Phew, that was a scorcher and I was delighted to finish in 5:28 which I believe is a course record for me.   Goodness knows how as I felt quite sluggish in the heat!

Love this medal!

Apologies for the lack of words in this post but I'm too excited and I can't wait for tomorrow to come so I can share the exciting news with you.