Burnley woman's 90-mile dementia charity challenge in memory of grandad
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Gemma Richmond (22) has embarked on the fundraising challenge throughout July in memory of Geoff Powell, who died just six weeks before his 90th birthday.
Pensions administrator Gemma hoped to raise £90 for Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity. But with half of the month remaining her JustGiving page has already topped £1,000, smashing her original target.
Gemma said: “Friends and family have been really generous, so I’m delighted with how much I have raised so far.
“Grandad lived with dementia for more than 10 years, so I really wanted to do something to pay tribute to him. His wife Janet, my nana, died suddenly in May after a stroke and, sadly, grandad died just two weeks after that, aged 89.
“Both deaths were a shock. I really thought grandad would live to see his 90th birthday. He lived in Luton and after nana’s death our family had hoped to find him a care home near Burnley so we could see him more often.
“He was such a lovely man who always had a smile on his face. His memory may have faded, but he never lost his cheeky sense of humour.”
Alzheimer’s Society has been forced to postpone its hugely popular memory walks this year due to the restrictions placed on mass fundraising events. However, the charity is hoping its supporters will organise their own smaller Memory Walks instead.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including more than 1,000 in Burnley and around 17,000 across Lancashire. Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes.
Gemma, who became a Dementia Friend three years ago by learning more about how the condition affects people, has been accompanied on several of her runs and walks by friends and family.
She added: “It has been really lovely to have people come along with me whenever they can. Five of us walked around Towneley Park on July 8th, which would have been grandad’s 90th birthday, so that was quite a special day. I like to think he’d be proud of what I’m doing in his memory.”
Sue Swire, community fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society in the North-West, said: “We can’t thank Gemma enough for her support. She has already raised more than ten times what she set out to, which is amazing.
“Right now, people living with dementia need our support more than ever because of how hard the coronavirus pandemic has hit them.
“Since the lockdown began our trained staff have made more than 100,000 welfare calls to people with dementia and their carers to offer support, information and to reassure them that they are not alone. Every penny raised by our dedicated fundraisers is helping us to continue this vital work.”
To find out more about organising a Memory Walk visit memorywalk.org.uk.
To make a donation, visit Gemma’s JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/90milesfor90years