Determined daughter takes on 100km walk for dad with Alzheimer’s

21 August 2018

Secondary school teacher Laura Newbury will take on a 100km walk this weekend (August 25/26) to raise vital funds for dementia research, in honour of her dad who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Laura and her dad

Laura and her dad

Laura and her partner Laurie McCall are aiming to complete the Ultra South Coast Challenge, which is 100km (approx. 62 miles) long, in just 24 hours for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The route will take the couple from Eastbourne, over the top of the iconic white cliffs of the south coast, through the centre of Brighton, up and over the hills of the South Downs and finishing up in Arundel.

Laura and Laurie

Laura and Laurie

The 32-year-old is supporting the UK’s leading dementia research charity as her father, Steve, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2015, at the age of 59. However, he had symptoms for a number of years before he was diagnosed.

In 2011 he kept having blackouts and it was found that his heart kept stopping, resulting in him having a pacemaker fitted and stents put in. Then a couple of years later he had a number of mini-strokes. Laura’s mum, Verna, began noticing lots of little things as his memory became worse, but put it down to several operations, medication and the mini-strokes.

The family assumed the mild cognitive impairment would plateau as his health improved, but after a few more check-ups it was clear that it was neurological, and he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in January 2015. He continued working as a technician at Falmouth University for a while after diagnosis but has stopped working now.

Laura and Laurie

Laura and Laurie

Laura, who lives in Porthleven, said:

“Dad is really open about his diagnosis. We live in a small community, so he would rather people know he has Alzheimer’s in case he doesn’t recognise them when he sees them.

 “He keeps himself busy by taking his dog for walks, gardening and creating DIY projects and loves nothing more than socialising with his friends and family. Mum and Dad are determined to make the most of each day and not let Alzheimer’s stop them enjoying life. Whether they are exploring Cornwall with the dog; taking part in local festivals; or dancing at a silent disco, their positivity is the biggest inspiration to my brother, Martin and myself.”

This isn’t the first big walking challenge Laura has taken on for the charity – in 2016 she completed a 10-day walk along the entire coast of Cornwall raising more than £3,800 for dementia research.

She said:

“I want to raise awareness of dementia while raising money for research at the same time and this challenge is certainly a talking point. I’m determined to do all I can to help scientists make breakthroughs to develop new drugs for those living with different forms of dementia.

“Training is going well – I’m so grateful that Laurie is doing the challenge with me! We completed a 56km walk and have now covered the 100km distance over a couple of days, so we are ready for the real thing. I’ve also just qualified as a secondary school teacher and will be starting my new job five days after the walk so fingers crossed I don’t get too many blisters!”

 Laura and Laurie are close to hitting their £1,000 fundraising target but are hoping more donations will come in while they are doing the challenge.

To sponsor them visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Laura-Newbury

James Warren, Regional Fundraising Officer for the South West, said:

“This is an incredible challenge that Laura and Laurie are taking on for dementia research. Laura’s driving force for doing this ultra-walk is her dad, Steve, and although early-onset Alzheimer’s is rare, knowing someone with dementia isn’t.

“That is why we are determined to help scientists discover new treatments and find ways of tackling the diseases that cause dementia, but we can’t do this without the support of our wonderful fundraisers, like Laura and Laurie. We will be backing them the whole way!”

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org