A North East pensioner is celebrating his 80th birthday by embarking on a ‘virtual walk’ from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Gordon Hull, from Bearpark, Durham, started his 874-mile challenge – the equivalent of the iconic journey – on New Year’s Day and aims to complete it before the end of June.
“I saw an article on the news about the number of people with dementia and decided there, then I wanted to do something to help,” explained Gordon, a former Heritage Parks project officer for Aberdeen City Council.
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“Like most of us, I know people with the disease, but no close friends or family members.
“I just think there should be more awareness about dementia so that more people are inspired to raise funds to support those affected by it and to help find a cure.”
Gordon, whose 80th birthday is in May, uses a GPS watch to record his daily walks in and around County Durham.
This is linked to an app that tracks his progress along the virtual route, telling him where he is at any given time. He aims to do between 40 and 50 miles a week.
And this is not the first time that he has set himself an ambitious goal. Gordon has already walked 1,000 miles to raise money for a local primary school and has climbed 29,029 feet – the equivalent of Mount Everest – in the Lake District and North Pennines in support of the Children North East charity.
He says this extraordinary journey will allow him to stay motivated and active, achieve physical goals and boost his mental and physical well-being, which is vitally important in the current crisis.
Gordon said: “For most people, dementia is associated with memory loss, and we can all forget a name or a face as we get older.
“But dementia is more than that. It’s caused when a disease damages nerve cells in the brain.
“These cells carry messages between different parts of the brain and to other parts of the body. As more nerve cells are damaged, the brain becomes less able to function properly.
“Unfortunately, at present, there is no cure for dementia, but scientists and researchers are working hard to find one.”
There are 900,000 people with dementia in the UK, including 39,000 in the North East and almost 10,000 in County Durham and Darlington. In 2025, the national figure will be one million.
Siobhan Marsh, community fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of the North East, said: “It has been an incredibly difficult two years for people with dementia and they need our support now more than ever.
“I am impressed by people like Gordon who are taking on a phenomenal challenge that not only raises awareness of the disease, but funds that will allow us to reach more people through our lifesaving services, like the Dementia Connect support line, which is 0333 150 3456.”
Anyone wishing to support Gordon can do so by visiting his Page Just Give
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