Dorset women to run half marathon for dementia research in memory of dad

20 March 2018

A Dorset woman is taking on a half marathon to raise money for pioneering dementia research in honour of her father who died with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Gemma Winthrop

Gemma Winthrop

Gemma Winthrop, from Poole, is one of around 300 runners signed up to run the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday March 25 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The 48-year-old was inspired to support the UK’s leading dementia research charity as her father, Roger ‘Mojo’ Moore, died with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 aged 70 having been diagnosed when he was 64.

She said:

“It started with him forgetting things, but in the end it was like he was not even there. I watched my dad deteriorate from a strong, charismatic and popular man into a frail and frightened empty shell.

“He had a kind heart. He loved to act silly and make people laugh.

He was extremely creative and resourceful, he could turn his hand to almost anything, including brickwork, plumbing and electrics. He was a self-taught mechanic and built engines from scratch. He was a skilled upholsterer and was one of the original team at Sunseeker International, when it was known as Poole Powerboats, and was instrumental in the design, creativity and supervision of the upholstering department.

“But when Alzheimer’s set in he would forget how to do things or what his objective was. Tasks took so long he never finished them.

“He lived at home with my mum until it reached a point where she couldn’t look after him anymore. He went into a home but was there for just 10 days as he had a fall, broke his hip and went into hospital for an operation. From there it was a very quick decline. He never walked again. Immobile and unable to eat, he wasted away and died of complications on Christmas Day 2014.”

Roger Moore

Roger Moore

Gemma, whose 18-year-old daughter Jasmin is also running the London Landmarks Half Marathon, only got into running after doing the Couch to 5k plan in 2016. She now runs regularly at the Poole and Upton House parkruns.

She said:

“I wanted to do a half marathon for a cause that meant something to me and I would be proud to support. I want to support Alzheimer’s Research UK to help find a cure. Even treatments that help people live life to the full for longer would be amazing.”

Gemma has so far raised more than £600, smashing her £400 fundraising target. To sponsor her go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gemma-winthrop

Kenneth Foreman, Senior Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Gemma and her dad’s story shows the devastating effect dementia can have on a family.

“The vital funds raised by her and the hundreds of people running for Alzheimer’s Research UK will power world-class dementia research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

The London Landmarks Half Marathon is a new central London run and is the only half marathon to go through both the City of London and City of Westminster. Runners will start on Pall Mall, finish by Downing Street and have fabulous views of London’s most iconic landmarks including Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, Nelson’s Column, the Gherkin, the Shard, the Tower of London and the London Eye.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is one of the main charity partners for the event and will be bringing a large group of volunteers to cheer on the runners, with special activities planned at Cheapside. The cheer station will pay homage to London’s much-loved markets with traditional stalls and volunteers dressed as stallholders handing out oranges as part of the charity’s #ShareTheOrange campaign.

For information about taking on a sporting event to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, go to www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/support-us/fundraise/events