Daughter of Welsh rugby legend Dai Hayward to tackle London Marathon

The daughter of Welsh rugby legend Dai Hayward is tackling this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon in his memory to boost funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Posted on 19th March 2014

The daughter of Welsh rugby legend Dai Hayward will tackle this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon in his memory to boost funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Sian Hayward, who lives in Usk, Monmouthshire, hopes to raise at least £1,800 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity by completing the 26.2-mile course on Sunday 13 April. Dai, who won six caps for Wales, lost his battle with Alzheimer’s disease in 2003, aged just 69.

Sian, 53, a keen mountaineer who works at Monmouthshire County Council, explained her reasons for running across the English capital to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK:

“I’m supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK because they’re our best bet of finding a cure. As a council worker I’m acutely aware of the growing dementia epidemic and it’s a big elephant in the room. If we can find a way of delaying the onset of the disease, or find a cure, it would be a huge relief to millions of people, including myself.”

Dai was known as one of the most combative flank forwards of his era. After playing senior rugby for Crumlin and Newbridge, Dai joined Cardiff – he spent almost 40 years as a player and committeeman at Arms Park. He made 325 appearances for the first XV and scored 50 tries from 1957-58 until his retirement at the end of the 1966-67 season.

Dai made his international debut two months short of his 29th birthday – against England at Cardiff Arms Park in 1963. Despite losing 13-6 on a frozen pitch, Dai managed to score the only home try in the final minute. He later played against New Zealand that year, Scotland, Ireland and France and also visited South Africa in 1964 as part of Wales’ first tour abroad.

Sian said:

“My father was a very vibrant, intelligent man and rugby was his life. After making a losing debut against England at Arms Park, Wales remained unbeaten at the stadium against England for the next 28 years. Because Dad was the only Welsh try scorer in the game, they’d show footage of him running around the ground on TV every time the two teams met.

“He also worked as a teacher, then as a marketing director for a brewery. His forte was doing after dinner speeches and writing humorous rugby articles for national newspapers and rugby programs. It all ended when Alzheimer’s stole him from us at a very young age – he was 60 when it started. I watched his steady, heartbreaking decline until he had a stroke and died. It sounds awful but I was relieved as he was spared the worst that Alzheimer’s can bring. He’d got to the point where he would just appear on people’s doorsteps or come downstairs without getting properly dressed. He died in my mind many years earlier, and I badly miss the man he was.”

Among those to have already sponsored Sian is Wales and Lions international George North. The burly winger contributed to Sian’s fundraising total during a visit to the council’s offices earlier this month.

Sian added:

“I’ve done a couple of half marathons before but never a full marathon so I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m determined to finish. Training’s going well and my most recent long run was 22 miles. Since I began training in October there’s hardly been a day when it hasn’t rained, but knowing people are sponsoring me for such a worthy cause keeps me focused.”

Jodie Vaughan, Community Fundraising Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We couldn’t be more grateful to Sian for taking on the marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK and we wish her every success on the day. Last year our fantastic Virgin Money London Marathon runners raised an incredible £113,500, enough to fund almost four complete pilot projects. Every £20 Sian raises is enough to pay for another hour of pioneering research, bringing us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people across the UK living with dementia today, including almost 37,000 people in Wales, with over 1,000 of those living in Monmouthshire. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia pose one of the greatest threats to public health now and in the future. Research is the only answer but funding still lags far behind other serious diseases. We rely on wonderful supporters like Sian to fund our world-class research.”

To help Sian raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s groundbreaking dementia research, donate online at www.justgiving.com/sian-hayward3. For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org

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