My dad, Michael Peel, was a primary school head teacher. He was 44 when he started to experience memory problems and took early retirement at 50 due to 'stress'. He was an articulate and funny man, who inspired many children over the course of his career. At 56 he was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, my father passed away in May 2012 aged just 66.
After losing my father, I decided to raise money by running a marathon for YoungDementia UK. I had run two previous half marathons for other dementia charities, but a marathon presented a big personal challenge and I wanted to fundraise for a charity that supports younger people specifically. They are a relatively small charity, but they do brilliant work in terms of supporting younger people living with dementia and their families.
Originally I was only going to do one marathon – in Edinburgh – but things snowballed from there as I was determined to reach my fundraising target of £3000. I ended up running five marathons in three months. The first one was the Worcester marathon, then I completed the Stratford marathon a fortnight later. I ran the Edinburgh marathon in May 2013 in a personal best time of 3 hours 46 minutes. And then I ran two more within a fortnight, in Coventry and in Tenby.
In total I raised £3030 for YDUK by running the five marathons. Their work is so important because younger people with dementia are often overlooked because services and support are geared towards older people. YoungDementia UK is a brilliant charity because it stops younger people and their families from falling through the cracks and ensures they get the support they need.
- Professor Elizabeth Peel is Professor of Psychology and Social Change at the University of Worcester’s Institute of Health and Society. She has conducted two dementia research projects, funded by the British Academy, ‘Duties to Care’ (with Dr Rosie Harding) and ‘Dementia Talking’.