A Thorney family has set itself a target to raise £6,000 for Alzheimer’s Research.
Elizabeth Hurn of the Maltings saw both her father and mother die as a result of the disease, so when her daughter’s boyfriend secured a place in the London Marathon, the family decided they would make his run the centre of a fund-raising effort.
As the Thorney Post went to press, they had already raised over £3,500 through a quiz night, cake sales and race sponsorship.
“Alzheimer’s is a very cruel illness,” said Elizabeth. “It affects every aspect of the victim, weakening their body and destroying their mind and personality. I’m an only child and mum and I were very close. For a mother to no longer be able to recognise her daughter is terribly hurtful.”
Elizabeth’s father Eric Stacey had shown some symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but following a fairly routine knee operation, the condition developed quickly and he died soon afterwards, aged 75. Her mother, Pam, was affected differently by the disease. The symptoms came on more gradually, with increasing forgetfulness and then confusion.
One day, she travelled from her home in Orchard Court to see her sister in Peterborough, but instead of getting the bus back to Thorney, she got on a coach to London and ended up at Victoria bus station.
“That scared us so much,” said Elizabeth. “A woman tried to help her, but all she could remember was the number of a neighbour in Whittlesey from years before.
“Thankfully, the neighbour called me and I was able to arrange for my brother-in-law, who works in London, to pick her up.”
Pam died last year, aged 82.
The choice of Alzheimer’s Research for a fund-raising effort was down to Ben Parker, boyfriend of Elizabeth’s daughter Alice.
Ben has wanted to run the London Marathon for some time and when his entry was accepted for this year’s race, he was clear he wanted to run in memory of Pam and to raise money to help people who will suffer from Alzheimer’s in future.
“Experiencing the immense difficulty and sadness the family had to go through because of Alzheimer’s was heart-breaking,” he said. “Alzheimer’s leads to the death of nerve cells and the loss of brain tissue. I was not aware that one in six people over the age of 80 develop this disease, yet there is still no comprehensive understanding of the connection with genetic inheritance and no definitive way of completely removing your chances of diagnosis.”
A quiz night at the Bedford Hall in February was sold out and raised £1,400.
“I can’t thank people enough for their support. It was fantastic,” said Elizabeth. Husband Paul was helping on the night and he said he was surprised by how many people approached him to say they had relatives who had suffered in the same way, either through Alzheimer’s or dementia. “It really is a massive problem,” he said.
Ben (27) is currently training hard for the big day on April 22. This will be his first marathon and he’s hoping for a sub four-hour time.
If anyone wants to support the Hurn family’s fund-raising, you can give online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben26.