Artist to run London Marathon for dad living with rare form of dementia

06 April 2018

Cambridgeshire artist Mark Davies will run this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon to raise vital funds for dementia research – spurred on by his father who is living with the condition.

Mark, who specialises in mixed media art, is currently clocking up the miles in preparation for the world-famous marathon later this month. He was compelled to take on the marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK after watching his dad Michael struggle with a rare form of dementia, called primary progressive aphasia (PPA).

Mark Davies

Primary progressive aphasia is a condition caused by damage to parts of the brain that control personality, emotions, language and behaviour. In most cases, this damage is caused by frontotemporal dementia. Most people who develop PPA are in their 50s and 60s with people’s speech and language being one of the first things to change.

Mark, who lives in St Neots and has a studio in Abbotsley, said:

“It was very difficult to understand that my dad had a form of dementia initially as his memory was fine but his reading, writing and speech were affected. We went back and forth for a while trying to secure a diagnosis – he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in late 2012 but his symptoms didn’t match the disease so after numerous tests he was re-diagnosed with PPA 2015.

“Dad is 77 now and his speech is massively affected which he finds frustrating as he wants to get involved but it is a battle for him to get his words out. There are good days and bad days but his amazing personality shines through. My mum, Anne-Marie, has been a phenomenal support to him too.”

Mark Davies and his parents

Mark recently took up running again as a way of coping with the strain of his father’s diagnosis and decided as he turns 40 just before the marathon that this is a great time to do it.

The father-of-one said:

“I used to be a keen runner way back before my daughter was born in 2005 and sadly have barely done much since with the pressures of work and life in general making it very hard so I am starting from scratch again.

“It will be an incredible effort to take on the 26-mile course, but it is no different to the constant effort that my dad makes daily and also my mum, who is without doubt the most incredible woman I will ever know. Her determination and positivity is like nothing else and has made such a difference to both my dad and all of us. So, running this marathon is for them both.”

As part of Mark’s fundraising he created a piece of art called A Picture of Hope, which was inspired by Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit tales, and sold it for £3,495 at a show he hosted at Images in Frames Gallery – Wanstead.

If you would like to support Mark in his fundraising please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/markdavieslondonmarathon2018

Kenneth Foreman, Senior Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We are so grateful to Mark for choosing to run for us and raise vital funds for dementia research. Sadly, Mark’s experience of dementia is not uncommon, but our vision is a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia and we believe we can achieve this through pioneering research.

“We will be cheering Mark along on race day from our bright orange cheer squads along the route and would like to wish him the best of luck.”

For information about joining the charity’s Cheer Squad for the marathon or other sporting events, go to www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/volunteering/cheer-squad

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