Double dementia diagnosis of his fiancee's parents spurs caring Burnley account manager to take on running challenge for Alzheimer's Society

Donations have been coming in from around the globe for a Burnley man who is tackling a challenge to raise funds for a charity dedicated to the biggest health and social care challenge of the 21st century.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 12:30 pm

The Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity. It campaigns for change, funds research to find a cure and support people living with dementia, the country's biggest killer. Someone develops it every three minutes and there’s currently no cure.

And Andy Layfield has already raised £2,248, through donations and gift aid for the charity, by giving up sugar and running six miles a day over the 40 day period of Lent, which he extended by five days.

Andy knows first hand the heartbreak and devastation this terrible disease can bring to a family.

Andy Layfield, who has raised over £2,000 for the Alzheimer's Society in a Lent running challenge, with his partner Bernardine Firminger, who is supporting him by doing a couch to 5k challenge
Andy Layfield, who has raised over £2,000 for the Alzheimer's Society in a Lent running challenge, with his partner Bernardine Firminger, who is supporting him by doing a couch to 5k challenge

For the parents of his partner, Bernardine Firminger, both suffer from dementia. Bernardine's mum was the first to be diagnosed, 10 years ago when she was just 61. Her dad, who is now 81, received his diagnosis in July last year.

It's a double blow for the closeknit family who have just rolled up their sleeves and got on with it.

Bernardine, a primary school teacher and Andy, an account manager for Daisy Communications, combine their full time jobs with being carers, assisted by Bernardine's sister Anne Marie and her husband Chris.

Andy is in charge of cleaning Bernardine's parents' house every week and he also does their washing, sorts daily medication and also shopping.

A recovering alcoholic, Andy is running to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society and in October he will take part in the Manchester Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support

Bernardine, who has a son James (15), said: "Andy has just been amazing, he has been there with me every step of the way since my parents became ill.

"It is a balancing act between us all as a family and people often say they don't know how we cope.

"But we don't have a choice really and we feel lucky that we live close to my parents and we are able to be there to give them the care and support they need as so many people don't have anyone.

"That's why Andy wanted to do something to help raise funds for the charity and also awareness of what it does.

"He just wants to give back however he can."

A recovering alcoholic who has faced his own struggles, Andy is also preparing to take part in the Manchester Marathon in October. Postponed from last year, Andy is running the event to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, the charity that helped his dad before he died in 2019.

Andy already has just over £1,000 in donations for the charity which he says he owes so much to for the faultless care and support they gave to his dad in the last months of his life.

And, as if the couple did not have enough going on in their lives, next year they are planning to get married.

Bernardine said: "We have been together now for 13 years so I thought it was time to make an honest man of him."