Special fundraising walk around Derry recalls life of beloved lady


By Philip Tubby | Wednesday 13 September 2017

A family took an emotional trip down memory lane with a 20-mile walk around Derry to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Rachel Coyle and her brother Robert Tinney organised the walk around the city in honour of their beloved mum, Anne Tinney, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s 14 years ago, aged just 56.

The Walkers stop at Glendermott Presbytarian Church where Anne and Jack married in 1968

Dozens of walkers, including Anne’s husband Jack as well as other family members, friends and work colleagues, visited important places in Anne’s life to raise money for the UK’s leading dementia charity.

Rachel, a mum of three, said:

“We picked a route that holds very special memories for our mum. Unfortunately, she cannot remember these for herself, so we remembered them for her.

“I decided on the 20-mile walk because I am 36 years old and my mum was 56 when she was diagnosed. That is 20 years…20 years to find a cure for this horrendous illness.

“I can’t bear the thought of getting it. I can’t begin to imagine not knowing my children. Just like I’m sure mum could never have imagined it as well.”

The walk began at the Owen Mor Care Centre where Anne lives. Locations on the walk included:

  • Seymour Gardens care home – Anne’s first full-time residential home.
  • Seven Oaks day centre – where Anne went for respite care.
  • Altnagelvin Hospital – where Anne worked as a PA to the consultant in the breast screening unit.
  • Faughan Valley School – where Anne met Jack and love blossomed.
  • Milltown Crescent – Anne’s family’s home.
  • Glendermott Presbyterian Church – where Anne and Jack married in 1968.
  • Derry-Donegal Christian Fellowship – the church Anne and Jack played a large part in setting up.
  • Culmore Primary School – where Anne was school secretary for many years and taught netball.
  • Coney Road – Anne and Jack’s family home for more than 30 years.

Jack and Anne Tinney

The walk has raised more than £4,500 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, which will help fund life-changing research aiming to create a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.

To donate go to Rachel’s fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rachel-coyle6

Rachel, an occupational therapist, said:

“Research really is where I want the money to go as a cure is what I want. Research into dementia has also been so underfunded compared to other illnesses.”

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of early-onset dementia. Around four percent of people with Alzheimer’s are under 65. Symptoms can include memory problems, confusion, changes in personality and behaviour, language difficulties and visual problems.

Rachel said:

L-R Rachel Coyle, Anne Tinney, Jack Tinney

“It was just small things at the start. Forgetting to make the gravy with the dinner, forgetting where she parked her car in a shopping centre. Things you wouldn’t think meant she had Alzheimer’s but when you look back now you know why.

“The biggest thing after diagnosis was her personality changed quite dramatically. She is a very gentle, humble, quiet lady. All of a sudden, she started getting a bit narky. It was really strange behaviour. She became more confused and agitated.

“Quite early on, well before she was 60, she needed 24-hour supervision, which was very tough on my dad. My four brothers and I did a rota. I gave up one day of work and went four days a week and we all took a day to look after her.

“We did the rota for about nine years. She started to have a couple of days of respite in day centres and then we started accepting two weeks of respite in residential homes. Then around five years ago, with a heavy heart, we decided she needed to go into a care home full-time.

“She hasn’t spoken in years, she lost her speech very quickly, and she hasn’t known us in about eight years. She sleeps most of the time now. She does open her eyes and smile, although there’s very little response from her.”

Matt Clarke, Regional Fundraising Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“This walk has raised vital funds for dementia research. It’s such a touching idea to bring together the community in Derry and remember all of the important places and times in Anne’s life. We can’t thank all of the walkers enough for taking part and for supporting the work Alzheimer’s Research UK does to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025.”

Matt would like to hear from anyone in Northern Ireland who would be interested in joining an Alzheimer’s Research UK Fundraising Group. For more information contact Matt on 07584 657587 or email matt.clarke@alzheimersresearchuk.org


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Philip Tubby