Cobham mum runs the London Marathon for dementia research in memory of her dad

07 March 2017

A heartbroken Cobham mum is running the London Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK, in memory of her parents.

Siobhann Ardley, 36, lost both her parents in 2016, her 68-year-old mum Annette Royce in August and her dad Michael Royce in November, a day after his 71st birthday.

Siobhann and her dad Michael

Michael had been living with Alzheimer’s disease for almost a decade, and passed away in a care home, while Annette died from liver cancer following a terminal diagnosis last June.

Siobhann has already raised over £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, nearly doubling her original target ahead of the marathon on Sunday 23 April.

The mum-of-two said:

“My dad was my best friend, and the most fun, caring and selfless man, not just to his family but to everyone. That’s what made him so special.

“I don’t believe his heart ever changed, but his mind was filled with sadness, emptiness, loneliness and fear as the dementia progressed. I found myself talking about my dad in the past tense while he was still here, that was one of the hardest things.

“My parents had an amazing relationship, they couldn’t live without one another. When Dad became ill my mum’s lust for life was extinguished.

“My siblings and I were left at a loss, we were not able to do much except carry on loving him and caring for him. Before he died I realised one thing I could do is raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, a charity which means so much for me.

“I signed up for the London Marathon and was over the moon to have gained a place. Since then both my parents have died, which is absolutely devastating.

“My mum worried about my dad right up until the end and missed him so much. We promised her we would look after him no matter what, and I want to continue to make her proud.

“Now more than ever I am determined to do all I can to see an end to this devastating condition that pulls families apart. I’ll run the marathon with both my mum and my dad in my memory and in my heart.”

Michael and Annette, Siobhann’s parents

Michael and Annette were well known in the village of Bledington in Gloucestershire, running a hotel, pub and a restaurant.

Michael’s odd behaviour not long after the couple’s retirement in 2008 was put down to the fact he’d gone from working 365 days a year to none. In late 2010 that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Annette was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013, and when she could no longer look after Michael he went into a care home. She was given the all-clear after having her bladder removed, but in June she was told she had terminal liver cancer, and was given just eight weeks to live.

The diagnosis came on the same day Siobhann’s youngest child was born.

Siobhann has been training for the marathon while juggling looking after her two children, and has taken on ultramarathons and Iron Man challenges in the past while working as a personal trainer.

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

“We can’t thank Siobhann enough for her ongoing fundraising for Alzheimer’s Research UK and we’re thrilled to see she’s already exceeded her target and raised a phenomenal amount for dementia research.

“In the UK there are 850,000 people living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is leading the charge to find treatments and preventions for dementia, which couldn’t be done without our generous supporters like Siobhann.”

To donate to Siobhann’s fundraising page, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Siobhann-Ardley