Oxford lecturer’s daughter raises £1,300 in a fortnight for dementia research

20 November 2017

The daughter of a retired Oxford Brookes University lecturer has raised over £1,300 for Alzheimer’s Research UK in honour of her academic dad, who is living with the condition.

Peter George

Peter George lectured in sociology and social policy at the university before retiring at 55. Sadly, his retirement years were stolen from him when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at 73.

Now his daughter Bethan Watts has taken on a 300-mile cycling challenge to help raise money for the UK’s leading dementia research charity. She has already smashed her £150 target and has stormed to the top of the leaderboard after sharing her dad’s heartbreaking story on social media.

The challenge is a part of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new initiative, Cycling Down Dementia, which asks supporters to take on a 300 or 1,000-mile challenge between now and the end of January to help raise funds for dementia research.

When Bethan decided to take on the challenge, she could never have predicted the swell of support from families and friends whose lives have been touched by her lecturer dad, Peter.

Taking part in Cycling Down Dementia has made Bethan feel like she is doing something to help her dad, whose condition has deteriorated rapidly since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Bethan said:

“The first time Dad forgot who we were was a horrible time for us. It was a huge shock. That’s really when you start grieving.”

“Today, he is completely immobile. Somebody has to feed him. His body has literally forgotten how to work.”

Bethan with her father Peter at her wedding

The 47-year-old wanted to do something to help fund research into Alzheimer’s for some time, as there are currently no effective treatments for the disease.

She said:

“Dementia is the underdog in terms of research, and it’s also the condition that has the biggest impact on health and social care services. Compared to cancer, research into dementia is underfunded, which is why I wanted to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.”

With 460 cyclists already pedalling hard for the charity, now is the time to get on the saddle for dementia research and clock up those miles by the end of January.

Bethan Watts Cycling

All cyclists have to do is sign up at www.cyclingdowndementia.org, choose either the 300 or 1,000-mile challenge, connect their tracking app such as Strava or MapMyFitness, and get on their bikes – indoors or outdoors.

Participants are being encouraged to share their progress on social media using the hashtag #CyclingDownDementia. They can also join the Cycling Down Dementia community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/cyclingdowndementia

The challenge follows in the footsteps of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s award-winning Running Down Dementia initiative, which has raised more than £400,000 for life-changing dementia research since its launch in 2016.

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

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org