Mother and daughter join forces to take on the Great North Run for Alzheimer’s Research UK

22 August 2017

Running duo Amanda and Kristie Kenmir will tackle one of the world’s most popular half marathons next month in memory of their beloved mum and grandma, who died from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease last year.

When Merril Hall started forgetting things her family never dreamed she would have dementia as she was only in her 50s when she started showing the first signs of the condition.

Her daughter Amanda recalled how her mum, who was a teacher at the time, was asked to meet with the headteacher and governors at the private school she worked at as she had started to forget things. Later that day she left her job of 22 years and never returned.

Kristie Kenmir, Merril Hall, Colin Hall, and Amanda Kenmir (l-r)

Amanda, who lives near Darlington, said:

“I don’t think we knew that there was anything really different with mum at the time as she would write shopping lists to remember things when she went to the supermarket. But at school it was more noticeable as she was teaching young children and would forget what she had told them.”

The 46-year-old explained that her dad, Colin, took early retirement and her parents travelled around Europe for a couple of years before they settled in Benidorm. As time went on Colin began picking up more and more of the everyday duties his wife was no longer able to do.

It wasn’t until Merril was in her early 60s that she was formally diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s during a return to the UK to see family. Following the diagnosis Colin and Merril went back out to their home in Benidorm where they lived for several more years with the support of friends in their close-knit community.

However, it became apparent during Merril’s 70th birthday celebrations in Morocco that she was no longer able to cope and Colin needed support in caring for her.

Amanda said:

“She had forgotten the most basic of things: we got her a birthday cake with candles on but she just couldn’t remember how to blow them out. Kristie and I had to blow them out for her.

“We decided it was time for mum and dad to come home and they moved in with us for a while but we soon realised that we just couldn’t manage and so mum moved into a care home.”

Sadly, Merril passed away in September last year which prompted Amanda and her daughter and Merril’s granddaughter, Kristie, 25, to take on the Great North Run in her memory to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The duo have already smashed their fundraising target of £800 thanks to support from their families, friends and workplaces.

Amanda, who works at PX Group in Stockton-On-Tees, said:

“The support we have received has been amazing. My company has offered to match my offline donations which has been a massive boost for our total. Our fundraising currently stands at about £1,400 but I think we have more donations to come with a few weeks to go before the race.”

If you would like to sponsor Amanda and Kristie and help them raise vital funds for dementia research visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kristie-amanda

Kenneth Foreman, Sporting Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Sadly Amanda and Kristie’s story is all too familiar with 850,000 living with dementia across the UK. However, their determination to make a difference is inspirational and we can’t thank them enough for taking on the Great North Run to raise money for dementia research.

“We want to bring about a life-changing dementia treatment by 2025 and we can only do this with the backing of supporters like Amanda and Kristie.”