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Dementia has affected me directly through my mother, who is in a Dementia care home and with whom communication is now very difficult. It is also affecting my wife, Amanda, who has been diagnosed with Semantic Dementia. She is currently only 62 and is managing very well, but the loss of words is noticeable and this, inevitably, affects me and our two daughters. Unfortunately there is currently no cure for the disease, and current statistics are that one person in this country is diagnosed with a form of dementia every three minutes (worldwide figures are one every three seconds). Funding for research is desperately needed!
My aim is to complete the 100 mile South Downs Way, from Winchester to Eastbourne, in five days. The normal time taken by most people is eight or nine days, though some do cycle it in two or three and some bionic folk run it in no time at all! I reckon it is just about possible to do twenty miles a day plus the few extra miles involved in dropping off the trail to get provisions or find a place to sleep, but it will be a stretch!
I am planning at the moment to do the walk in the second week in May, when the days will be longer and the temperature neither too hot nor too cold. It is also term time so the route should be quieter.
Along the walk I will be able to see Portsmouth, where I was born, and I will pass Beachy Head to Eastbourne, where my mother was stationed with the WAAF in the Second World War and where her mother lived for a time.
I hope you will sponsor this walk generously - it's not for me, but for all of us, as present estimates are that one in three people in the UK right now will eventually contract a form of dementia, and for every sufferer there have to be carers too.