Nine-year-old Wiltshire girl takes on 95-mile cycle for dementia research in aunt’s memory

23 November 2017

A nine-year-old girl from Wiltshire has completed a 95-mile cycle and raised over £1,000 for dementia research in honour of her aunt, who died at just 49 with the condition.

When Ellie Barker’s aunt Lisa tragically passed away with early-onset Alzheimer’s, she told her mum, Susie, that she wanted to do something to help others with condition. Ellie decided to take on a cycle to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Ellie cycled the length of the Kennet and Avon canal with her dad in July, even camping out overnight to complete the challenge.

Ellie Barker

Susie said:

“She actually fell in the canal while out cycling. I thought, ‘she’s going to stop this now’, because she was cold and frightened. Luckily, the canal runs quite close to our house, so I went down and picked her up, got her bathed and changed, and I said, ‘what do you want to do now love?’

“She replied: ‘I think we’re running a bit behind time now, Mummy, so we better get back to it.’ She was an absolute star and just blew us all away.”

Ellie’s staggering fundraising efforts came after her aunt Lisa, from Norfolk, experienced a long and devastating battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

After she started showing symptoms in her 30s, family and friends became concerned. At first, doctors were sceptical that she could have Alzheimer’s at such a young age. However, she was eventually diagnosed with the disease.

Lisa’s condition continued to deteriorate until she died at 49 in a care home.

Susie helped Ellie with fundraising, and says they were all “amazed” by the response to Ellie’s cycling challenge.

She said:

“One person pulled over at the canal bank walk and asked Ellie and her Dad what they were doing. He gave them some money because his wife had Alzheimer’s too.

“Sadly, this is clearly a universal experience. So many people have lost a loved one to dementia.”

Ellie with her parents

Ellie joins the ranks of hundreds of others who have taken on cycling challenges to raise money for dementia research.

Over 500 cyclists have already signed up to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new initiative, Cycling Down Dementia, which was launched at the beginning of November.

The challenge asks supporters to take on a 300 or 1,000-mile cycling challenge to raise vital funds for dementia research.

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

“We are so impressed at Ellie’s resolve in taking on this challenge and raising vital funds for dementia research in honour of her aunt.

“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 Ellie 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