Tuesday, 16 July 2013
A University of Worcester Professor this weekend completed a five marathon challenge as she aims to put her best foot forward – in more ways than one – in the fight against dementia.
Professor Elizabeth Peel is a Professor of Psychology and Social Change at the University’s Institute of Health and Society, and after her own family was touched by dementia, she has conducted research into the disease over the past three years.
After arriving on campus earlier this month, she will work to continue and develop this research alongside the University of Worcester’s influential Association for Dementia Studies.
However, she has recently stepped out from her office and into her running shoes to complete five marathons in three months to raise money and awareness for the charity Young Dementia UK, having taken up running just two years ago.
On her marathon journey, which started with the 26.2 miles in Worcester back in April, she says: “Originally I was only going to do one marathon – in Edinburgh – but it’s kind of snowballed from there.
“I did the Worcester Marathon with a friend of mine and then I completed the Stratford Marathon a fortnight later. I ended up going up to Edinburgh and running a personal best time, and decided to do two more – Coombe Abbey in Coventry and Tenby.”
Professor Peel is now closing in on her fundraising goal of £3,000 as she bids to support the charity that helps and supports people such as her father, who passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease last year at the age of just 66.
“My dad was 44 when he started to experience memory problems and 56 when he was formally diagnosed. Anyone under the age of 65 is classed as ‘young’ in terms of dementia,” she explains. “Young Dementia UK is a relatively small charity, but they do brilliant work in terms of supporting younger people living with dementia and their families.
“There are around 64,000 people in the UK living with younger onset dementia – a small minority of the total number of dementia sufferers but a significant number, and a number that is growing all the time.
“The charity’s work is so important because these people are so often overlooked as their needs are different. The almost face reverse ageism – there are all sorts of cultural stereotypes and assumptions about dementia and services are geared up for much older people,” she continues.
“Young Dementia UK is such a brilliant charity because it stops younger people and their families from falling through the cracks and ensures they get the support they need.”