Portishead man takes on 100-mile charity run for dementia research

29 January 2018

A man from Portishead near Bristol has completed a 100-mile running challenge to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of his grandfather, who died with vascular dementia.

Alex Poulton

Alex Poulton, who is originally from Gloucestershire and now lives in Portishead with his fiancé, said he wanted to start 2018 by doing something positive to remember his grandfather.

As well as remembering his grandfather – who the family affectionately called Gana – Alex’s running challenge is raising vital funds that will help power world-class research into dementia.

Alex’s grandad, Maurice Penfold, would have turned 100 this February if he was still alive. Sadly, he passed away five years ago after living with vascular dementia for several years.


Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia and occurs when blood flow to the brain is reduced.

Maurice started to show symptoms of the condition in the summer of 2010.

Alex said:

Alex Poulton with his grandfather

“We could see that he was getting confused and struggling with his balance and walking. At that point it was decided that my grandparents would move in with my parents, but a few weeks after settling in to his new home, he fell and broke a rib which resulted in him being admitted to hospital.

“At that stage, the dementia really took hold. He returned home for a while, but sadly it became clear that he required a higher level of care. At that point, he moved into a care home full-time.

“Nana sadly passed away at Christmas in 2012. Without regular visits from his wife, Gana deteriorated very quickly. Watching his decline was very tough on the whole family. He sadly passed away less than three months after my grandmother.”

Alex took on his running challenge because he wants to fund research in the hope that one day, other families will not have to go through the same pain his family has experienced.

He said:

“We need research into dementia because it affects so many people. It’s an awful thing to watch somebody who was the centre of the family lose themselves, but to not even realise that they’re losing themselves.”

Alex’s challenge comes as Alzheimer’s Research UK prepares to launch its award-winning Running Down Dementia initiative for 2018.

Running Down Dementia encourages novice and seasoned runners to take on a 100-kilometre running challenge and to raise £100 for the charity.

Those interested can pre-register now at www.runningdowndementia.org

James Warren, Regional Fundraising Officer for the South West at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We would like to thank Alex for taking on this amazing challenge in memory of his beloved grandfather.

“Our vision is a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia, and this can only be achieved through research.

“This can only happen through the fantastic fundraising efforts of people like Alex.”