Berkshire woman to run London Marathon for dementia research in memory of her mum


By Philip Tubby | Monday 19 March 2018

A woman from Newbury is running the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of her mum, who died from Alzheimer’s disease last year.

Dianne Sullivan took up running when her mother was first diagnosed with the disease as she found it helped her to cope. When her mum passed away last May, running the London Marathon in her memory seemed like the logical next step.

Dianne Sullivan

Dianne Sullivan

She has already raised £3,000 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity and exceeded her target by £800.

Her mum Joan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s almost 15 years ago, which led to a long and slow decline until her death last year.

The diagnosis came as a huge blow to Dianne. As an only child who had lost her father at just 11, she was her mum’s closest family member. She was just finishing her PhD in cancer research when she found out that her mum had Alzheimer’s.

Dianne said:

“She was diagnosed just before her 70th birthday, and soon afterwards, she stepped down as church treasurer as she couldn’t keep up with the bookkeeping anymore.

“Mum gave up work when she got married, but she was a really active part of the community where she lived in Wales. She helped out at the local church and fundraised to repair the church roof. She really pulled the community together to make that happen.

“When she died last year we held the funeral in that same church. Even though she hadn’t been around in a few years, as she spent her last years in a care home close to me, so many people from the community turned up.”

Dianne describes her mother as a “pillar of the community” who had her fair share of challenges in life. When Dianne was just 11 years old, her mum found her coal-miner dad dead in bed when she went to wake him ahead of his night shift.

Dianne when she was 11 with her mum Joan

Dianne when she was 11 with her mum Joan

Despite this, Joan was an amazing mother. When Dianne was the only one of her peers to go to university, her mum supported her in her desire to get an education.

Sadly, by the time Dianne’s daughter Bronwyn was born, Joan’s condition was so advanced that she was not able to recognise that she had a granddaughter.

When her mum passed away, Dianne wanted to do something to pay tribute to her loving mum. Because of her PhD in cancer research, she feels passionately about the need for research into dementia.

She said:

“Because of my background in cancer research, I know that dementia research is underfunded in comparison. We need to find a way to prevent this from happening to other families, but we also need to keep working to remove the stigma that is attached to dementia.

“I’ve run the London Marathon before, but this time, it made perfect sense for me to do it to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. It felt like the right thing to do to run the marathon in mum’s memory.”

Those interested in donating to Dianne can do so here:

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

“We can’t thank Dianne enough for her amazing fundraising efforts and for running the Virgin Money London Marathon to support research into dementia.

“Our vision is a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia. The only way we can achieve this is through research.”

For information about joining the charity’s Cheer Squad for the marathon or other sporting events, 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


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Philip Tubby