Portsmouth man to take on three-part challenge for dementia research in memory of dad

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By Alice Tuohy | Friday 27 April 2018

Graham Harfield from Portsmouth is taking on a mammoth challenge to raise vital funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK, because his dad died from dementia.

Graham Harfield

Graham Harfield

Graham’s dad, Fred, was diagnosed with dementia in September 2013 and passed away just two months later. After he broke his hip in a fall, he went into hospital, where he got his diagnosis. Sadly, his condition declined rapidly. Fred passed away at 83 years old in November of that year.

Graham wanted to help others with the condition, so decided to take on a three-part challenge to raise funds for dementia research. The trio of events will consist of a 40-kilometre cycle on Saturday 28 April, a skydive on May 26, and a 10-kilometre run on 21 October.

His challenge kicks off this Saturday with the cycle, on which he will be accompanied by his 14-year-old son Joshua and two explorer scouts.

The cycle will put the 50-year-old’s strength to the test, but he is determined to complete it so he can help make a difference for people with dementia. He is aiming to raise £1,000, and people can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/graham-harfield

Graham with his son Joshua

Graham with his son Joshua

He said:

“For the last week of dad’s life, he just lay there. He wasn’t eating, he wasn’t drinking. He was on medication to help with his symptoms, but you can only suppress symptoms for so long.

“His condition declined rapidly after he broke his hip, and his passing in November 2013 was devastating for us all.

“Dad worked as a compositor at his local newspaper and he did a lot of reading. He was a really intelligent man, so it was a shocking change when his condition started to decline.”

Graham feels strongly about the need to educate more people about dementia to help reduce stigma and misunderstanding.

He said:

“As a nation, we need to face up to this and start talking to younger generations about this condition. A lot of people don’t know what it is, or how it affects the brain. It’s usually only people who are directly affected that know what dementia actually is.”

Graham has been training and working to improve his fitness ahead of his challenge, however that hasn’t erased the nerves. He is being spurred on to complete the challenge by the memory of his dad and the need for more research into dementia.

“Dementia is such a cruel condition. You watch your loved ones fall away. We need to keep raising funds so researchers can find a cure for this horrible illness.”

Georgi Welch, Regional Fundraising Officer for the South East at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We would like to say a huge thanks to Graham for taking on this challenge in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“Our mission is to find the first life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025, and this is only possible with the tireless efforts of fundraisers like Graham.

“We wish him all the best of luck in his cycle this month, and for his skydive and run in the months ahead.”

To find out more about the causes of dementia, you can watch Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new ‘Share the Orange’ film featuring Bryan Cranston here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvCBSGLD1HA

About the author

Alice Tuohy