Inspirational London Marathon runner with dementia made Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK

17 August 2018

A Herefordshire woman who achieved her mission to challenge people’s perceptions of dementia by running the Virgin Money London Marathon has been made a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Sue Strachan Picture credit Alex Wallace

Sue Strachan Picture credit Alex Wallace

The accolade recognises Sue Strachan’s exceptional efforts in raising money for the UK’s leading dementia research charity and raising awareness of the condition.

Sue, who has vascular dementia, raised more than £13,000, smashing her original fundraising target of £3,000. Her story generated significant media coverage, including her being interviewed live by the BBC during the race, helping to raise awareness of dementia and dispel myths around the condition.

The 62-year-old has also become an ambassador for the Dementia Revolution, a partnership of Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society as the charity of the year for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.

Sue, who lives in Staunton-on-Wye, said:

“I was delighted to be invited to become a Champion for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“Being a supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK and being supported by the organisation has been so good for my wellbeing. Becoming a Champion will enable me to continue to raise awareness of dementia and to help raise funds for vital research.”

Sue was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2014. Her symptoms include problems with short-term memory, communication and concentration.

She took up running on the advice of her doctor who suggested getting fit would be a good way to help her manage her symptoms and stay positive. She did the NHS Couch to 5k programme and then in 2015 achieved her ambition to complete a half marathon before her 60th birthday. Eager for another challenge, she then applied for a place in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.

The unpredictable nature of the progression of vascular dementia meant that when she was given a place in the marathon she was not sure if she would be able to make it to the start line. However, she followed her training to the letter and made it to race day without injury, completing the 26.2 miles in just over seven hours despite the record temperatures.

She said:

“I was really struggling at the 10km point because it was such an incredibly hot day. I was leaning on the barrier thinking ‘you’ve raised the money, you’ve raised awareness, just give up’. But at that moment two other Alzheimer’s Research UK runners ran up behind me and they recognised me and said my story had inspired them. They walked with me for a bit and that gave me my mojo back and I made it to the end.

“I’ve had so many people come up to me saying they’d heard I’d run the marathon with dementia and lots of people who I don’t know sponsored me after hearing my story. It was very humbling to hear that my story had touched people and I realised just how many people are affected by dementia in some way.”

Sue joins a group of around 50 people who have been made Champions in recent years in recognition of their efforts in both fundraising and raising awareness on behalf of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Sue has been an amazing supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK with both her fundraising and raising awareness of dementia.

“Her fantastic efforts in running the London Marathon and telling her story in the media provided a powerful challenge to the common misconception that dementia only affects the elderly. She’s proof that while a dementia diagnosis is devastating, people with dementia can lead fulfilling lives.

“We appreciate all she has done for us and therefore we would like to thank her by inviting her to become one of our Champions.

“There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia today. Research has the power to defeat dementia and Alzheimer’s Research UK is leading the charge. We rely on public donations to fund our crucial research and it’s thanks to the commitment of people like Sue that we are able to increase the profile of dementia research and continue our vital work.”

For more information about running, fundraising and volunteering for the Dementia Revolution for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon go to

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK call 0300 111 5555 or visit