Durham man tackling Great Wall of China for Alzheimer’s Research UK

Posted on 2nd March 2016

Durham resident Mark Henderson will be flying to East Asia in May to complete a challenging trek across the Great Wall of China and raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The 32-year-old aims to raise at least £2,000 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity, a cause close to his heart. Mark will be funding the trip himself, so every penny raised will go to the charity.

Mark Henderson
Mark Henderson


The inspiration behind the trek is John (Jack) Wilkinson, Mark’s 88-year-old grandad, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2012. After completing his national service, Jack dedicated his life to working for Brandon and Byshottles council and was City Secretary for Durham City Council when he took early retirement in 1982.

Jack loves the outdoors and often used to take his grandson on walks, inspiring Mark’s choice of fundraising challenge. Mark is a keen traveller and will be taking a short break from his usual work with the Fire and Rescue Service in order to complete the challenge.

Jack’s symptoms began with forgetfulness, anxiety and mobility problems. However, they soon progressed and he became less independent, needing substantial help with everyday tasks. When it became unsafe for Jack to live independently he moved to a nearby care home, where Mark visits him regularly.

Mark explains how his grandad has changed:

“His symptoms can be quite upsetting and were a shock at first. On bad days, he becomes confused and finds it difficult to communicate. This affects his mood and he gets frustrated and angry, and that’s just not my grandad. Before the dementia developed, he was always very kind, patient and helpful.

“Without doubt my grandad has played a huge role in my life in more ways than I can ever describe, and my love of walking and being outdoors comes from him. To take on a trek like this in his honour is very special for me and very fitting to what we used to enjoy doing together.

“I chose to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK because research is fundamental to us beating dementia. If we can find a way to prevent or even cure it, then all the money’s been well spent.”

Mark will be flying out on 14 May and is looking forward to the seven day challenge.

Hannah Reynolds, Community Fundraising Executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Mark is not alone. He is one of the 23 million people in the UK who know a close friend or family member with dementia, yet public understanding of the condition is still lacking. Alzheimer’s Research UK aims to change this.

“We’re so grateful to Mark for taking on this challenge and raising both money and awareness to help us defeat dementia. We power world class studies focusing on diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Only research can beat this destructive condition.”

To sponsor Mark visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/MarkH84. 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.

Posted in Fundraising news