Man with rare dementia to run Kew Gardens 10k with daughter for research

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By Alice Tuohy | Monday 10 September 2018

A man who has a rare form of dementia that affects his vision is taking on a 10km run with his daughter to raise money for pioneering research.

Peter Mumford Sophie Hancox

Peter Mumford Sophie Hancox

Peter Mumford, from Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, who has posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), is set to run the Kew Gardens 10k at the Richmond RUNFEST on Saturday (September 15) with his daughter Sophie Hancox to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Sophie, who lives in Windsor, Berkshire, is also going to run the Richmond Half Marathon the following day.

Peter Mumford ARUK vest

Peter Mumford ARUK vest

PCA is a rare variant of Alzheimer’s disease that damages the part of the brain that makes sense of what the eyes are seeing. Those living with PCA usually experience problems with their vision, such as blurred vision, light sensitivity and issues with colour, depth and distance perception.

Peter, 58, has recently taken up running after he had to give up cycling because it had become too dangerous for him on the roads and also golf because he was struggling to see the ball. He trains with Sophie, 30, when she visits at weekends.

He said: “I’ve always kept myself fit and want to continue. Running is a way for me to maintain my independence.

“I used to compete in time-trials with Hereford Wheelers but I can’t anymore as I have to be so careful on roads.

“I also played golf regularly, but I now struggle to see the ball. I can walk right over my ball on the fairway and not see it and once on the green I putted the ball to a leaf mistaking it for the hole.

“Running does have challenges for me. For example, closed drains can look like they are open. It took me a long time to convince myself that they are flat and I can step on them.

“I run on a cycle track that I know well, as it’s safer for me. I have to be very careful with my footing.”

When Peter first started noticing problems with his vision, he went to the opticians, who found nothing wrong with his eyes. Peter thought he might have had a stroke or might have a brain tumour, but an MRI scan eventually revealed he had PCA.

He said: “One of the first problems I noticed was when driving I found car headlights appeared to be a lot brighter, like flares, and they would blind me.

“When I found out I had a form of dementia it was a shock. I didn’t know anything about PCA and you don’t expect to have dementia at my age. But I didn’t get too upset, I decided to make the most of things and just got on with it.

“One of the hardest things for me was having to give up work. I’ve always worked in car body shops, as a paint-sprayer, but I found I was missing bits and struggling to see the lines.”

Sophie, who works as a Distribution Lead for British Airways but is leaving to join the RAF next month, said: “I ran the Berlin Marathon last year for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I was originally motivated to sign up for the race and fundraise for the charity as my nan has Alzheimer’s, but then my dad was diagnosed with PCA and it made me even more determined to support research.

“He’s a very strong man, a man of few words. When he told me he’d been diagnosed with PCA it was the only time I’ve seen him upset. But he’s determined not to let it get him down and to live his life. We want to do as much as we can together while he’s still able to and the 10km run is part of that.”

Peter and Sophie have so far raised £1,000 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity, smashing their target of £750. To sponsor them go to

They are among nearly 100 runners who are taking on an event at the Richmond RUNFEST for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Julia Sobik, Senior Sporting Events & Partnerships Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Peter’s story is a powerful challenge to the prevailing misconception that dementia is just forgetfulness in old age.

“We can’t thank Peter and Sophie enough for helping to raise awareness of PCA and for fundraising to support our scientists’ pioneering research into the many complex forms of dementia.

“The vital funds they and our other runners at the Richmond RUNFEST raise will help us in our mission to bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

For more information on taking on a sporting challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK go to

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit

About the author

Alice Tuohy