Retired teacher’s dementia diagnosis inspires daughter to run half marathon for pioneering research

26 February 2019

A leadership development trainer is running the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon to raise money for pioneering dementia research in honour of her mum who is living with the condition.

Helen Christensen – Cambridge Half Marathon 2018

Helen Christensen, 44, ran the 13.1-mile race last year raising around £1,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The Executive Coach and Return to Work Coach, who lives in Quendon near Saffron Walden, will be at the start line again this Sunday supporting the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

Her mum, Carol Croft, a retired English teacher who worked at Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, for more than 30 years, was diagnosed with dementia in 2013 at the age of 70. She has mixed dementia, a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Helen, a mum-of-two, said:

“She’s still able to look after herself and live independently. She’s also still very physically active. But since Christmas there’s been quite a marked change as she’s been doing things a lot less. What I’ve really noticed is her world is shrinking. All the things she’s been actively participating in are just dropping off.

“Her short-term memory was bad from quite early on but is now completely non-existent.

“It’s horrible as I feel like I’m losing my mum. My relationship with her is completely different to how it used to be. You can’t really have a proper conversation with her about much because she can’t remember what you are talking about.

“She still gets a great deal of pleasure from being with her grandchildren, but she couldn’t look after them on her own. They will never get to know her as the person she was. Their experience of her is far less rich and fulfilling than it would have been and she’s missing out too.”

To sponsor Helen go to

Julia Sobik, Senior Sporting Events & Partnerships Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and the condition has a devastating effect on hundreds of thousands of families. Dementia is now one of society’s biggest medical challenges, but with research it can be overcome.

“We can’t thank Helen enough for taking on the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon again this year for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The vital funds she and our team of runners in the race raise will power world-class dementia research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK is the national charity partner for the Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon and will have 135 runners in the race and a large group of volunteers cheering them on.

The charity, which is based at Granta Park in Great Abington near Cambridge, will have two cheer stations, one on Bridge Street opposite The Baron of Beef pub and one on Chesterton Road outside The Boathouse pub.

For information about taking on a sporting event to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, go to