Cycling Down Dementia


Participants in Alzheimer’s Research UK’s inaugural Cycling Down Dementia campaign rode further than the distance to the Moon and raised around £80,000 for pioneering dementia research, the charity has revealed.

A total of 495 cyclists took up the challenge to ride either 300 or 1,000 miles from the beginning of November to the end of January and raise £150 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

They rode 274,000 miles – more than 11 times the circumference of the Earth.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has a strong record in fundraising via cycling. We reported for example on them having places in the Ride London event.

Cycling Down Dementia – Top Fundraiser

The top fundraiser was Bethan Watts, from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, who took on the 300-mile challenge in honour of her dad who has Alzheimer’s disease. She raised £2,312.

She said: “I’m so pleased I signed up for Cycling Down Dementia and have been able to raise so much money for research. 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.”

Simon Lovestone, Professor of Translational Neuroscience at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry and Lead Academic Scientist at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, also took on the 300-mile challenge and raised more than £2,000. Some of his mileage came from cycling to Buckingham Palace to receive a knighthood for services to neuroscience research in December.

He said: “My research group and I spend all our working lives chasing down dementia – trying to understand this dreadful condition and find treatments to prevent it. So Cycling Down Dementia has been a real pleasure and I’m delighted to have helped raise funds for research being done by brilliant scientists all over the UK.”

Basildon cyclist Gina Cleere topped the distance leader-board. Gina, who is one of the top female long-distance cyclists in the country, completed 3,723 miles over the three months having been inspired to take up the challenge as her father has dementia with Lewy bodies.

She said: “Cycling Down Dementia has been a fabulous challenge as it combined something I love – cycling long distances – with raising money for a cause that’s very close to me as my dad has dementia.”

Kenneth Foreman, Senior Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The first year of Cycling Down Dementia has been a huge success and we’ve been blown away by the amazing dedication of the cyclists both in the miles they have clocked up and the amount of money they have raised.

“We are so thankful to each and every cyclist who took part. The vital funds raised will power world-class dementia research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

The sheer scale of the research is indicated by the charity’s current dementia research projects worth over £27 million in leading Universities across the UK. Their Defeat Dementia campaign, a pledge to raise £100 million in five years to grow the research field and accelerate progress towards new treatments and preventions, was announced by the Prime Minister at the G8 legacy event on 19 June 2014.

Alzheimer’s Research UK – who have a brilliant YouTube animation explaining the essentials of Alzheimers – will soon be relaunching its Running Down Dementia challenge for the third year. Participants are challenged to run or walk 100km during the summer and raise £100. Anyone interested in taking part can pre-register.

More information about Alzheimer’s Research UK is available online, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555.


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