Chester teacher puts pedal power to the test in 1,000-mile charity challenge


By Philip Tubby | Friday 01 December 2017

A rower has swapped oar strokes for bike spokes to take on a 1,000-mile charity cycling challenge in honour of her mother and two uncles who have dementia.

Louise Tobias

Louise Tobias, from Chester, who is a member of Grosvenor Rowing Club, has signed up for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new initiative, Cycling Down Dementia.

Cycling Down Dementia challenges supporters to ride either 1,000 or 300 miles before the end of January and raise money to help fund pioneering dementia research.

Louise, 44, was inspired to take on the challenge by her mother Irene Crossley, 67, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in May. Louise’s uncles, and Irene’s older brothers, Noel and Monty, are also living with dementia. Noel was diagnosed with vascular dementia around three years ago while Monty was diagnosed with mixed dementia around a year later.

Louise with her mum, Irene Crossley

Louise, who teaches English and drama and is head of Year 11 at Upton-by-Chester High School, is aiming to do a lot of the mileage during the Christmas holidays.

The mother-of-one said: “I’m always up for a challenge but this is going to be tough.

“I’ve mapped out weekends over the next few weeks where I’m aiming to do 100-mile rides, then anything I can do during the week is a bonus. When I break up from school for Christmas, I’ve got two weeks where I envisage doing a lot of the mileage.”

Louise said she started to notice her mum was having problems with her memory around 18 months ago.

She said:

“There were gaps in her conversations, she’d repeat herself. She was struggling to find words which would normally be quite simple and forgetting people’s names.

“I was devastated when she was diagnosed, especially as she is quite young, but I was also relieved as we know what it is and can ensure she’s looked after. Mum is very vivacious and at social gatherings she is usually at the centre, but I have noticed it has knocked her confidence a bit.

“Uncle Noel’s condition has massively deteriorated. He’s now in a dementia care unit and is unable to speak and walk. Uncle Monty is still living at home with his wife. He’s functioning but you can’t really engage in conversation with him.

“Dementia hits so many people – it’s hit three people in my family. Research is absolutely vital and I feel we all need to help do everything we can to find a cure.”

To sponsor Louise go to

There is still time to sign up for Cycling Down Dementia. All cyclists have to do to take part is sign up at, choose either the Pioneer or Epic challenge, connect their tracking app such as Strava or MapMyFitness and get on their bikes. Participants can clock up the miles on the road or on an indoor bike.

Cyclists can compare their distances with others interactively through the website for extra motivation and keep track of leaderboards. Participants can also join forces and compete in teams, so groups of friends and work colleagues and members of cycling clubs can compete for the top spot.

Anyone who raises more than £250 will receive a free #TeamARUK cycle jersey.

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

“We are delighted Louise has signed up for Cycling Down Dementia and wish her the best of luck in taking on the 1,000-mile challenge.

“There are more than 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and this number is set to rise. That is why it’s so important that we work together to end the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia. The vital funds raised by the hundreds of people taking part in Cycling Down Dementia will power world-class dementia research projects helping to shape our understanding of the condition and open the door to new treatments.”

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