Fiona’s dad, Alistair, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 3 years ago, at the age of 74. Fiona completed the London Marathon in memory of her Dad who passed away a few weeks prior to the run. It was Fiona’s mission to fundraise for the Inverclyde Dementia Resource Centre who supported her family and Dad through his journey. 

Fiona's Story

"Over a period, our family had noticed that Dad was beginning to forget things – beyond what was usual. It wasn’t too obvious at first but as time went on, we felt it was becoming more of an issue for him. We arranged an appointment with the GP and tests were carried out, resulting in a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. 

"Although we were all shocked, it did offer a bit of relief in a way – because now we understood what was happening and could concentrate on getting the right support in place. My Dad also had a vascular condition in his legs, leaving him more prone to infection, which we found heightened things and made him seem more unwell at first. 

"Right from the start, we united as a family and worked as a team to help Dad cope with his diagnosis. My Mum supported him every day and between us, we made things work. He was such a family man, he loved spending time with all of us and after his diagnosis, we really focused on making memories. We spent more and more time together, going on holidays and enjoying special experiences. He loved no one more than his three grandchildren, Jamie, Sam and Lucy and it meant the world to him to be with them. Dad had always been so invested in all our lives – not a day would pass without a phone call, a voice mail, a text, just to see how we were. 

Fiona with her dad and family
Fiona and family

Fiona's Story

Fiona's dad with Grandchildren
Fiona's Dad with his Grandchildren

"After his diagnosis, this pattern of contact gradually stopped. The text messages became less frequent as he became less able to use his mobile phone, and the phone calls tailed off as he became distracted with other things. But one thing that never changed was the look on his face when his grandchildren arrived to see him – he would glow whenever they were around. 

"As the months progressed, we began looking for some extra help and support from dementia specialists. We found Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Resource Centre in Inverclyde and before long, were very fond users of the service they provide there. In fact, the support offered was life-changing for Dad. He managed to attend a local support group at the Centre once a week, which enabled him to socialise and build relationships with new people. There were some tricky times when Dad would refuse to leave the house with any of his family, so it could have been very difficult for us to get him to the Centre. But the Alzheimer Scotland staff were fabulous – from the support workers who gave us advice, to the drivers who came to the house to collect him instead. They were all worth their weight in gold. It’s the staff at this Centre that make it tick – they made such a difference to Dad and for that, I have nothing but respect. They brought him, and us, so much happiness. 

Fiona's Story

"I am a keen runner and for several months, had been training for the London Marathon. It wasn’t my original intention to do any kind of sponsorship for charity - I’m part of a club so my main reason for participating was for the experience and an improved time. But then, very sadly and suddenly, Dad passed away. It was completely unrelated to dementia, so it was a huge shock. We’d enjoyed such a lovely few days together beforehand, had a special day out and he’d enjoyed listening to his grandchildren read their homework books to him. Losing him so suddenly and unexpectedly was heartbreaking. Our only consolation was that he passed away just as he lived, with his family by his side. 

"This happened just three weeks before the marathon was due to take place. I decided to channel some of my grief and give me something to focus on – my race was now for Dad. And in doing it, I’d raise money for Alzheimer Scotland. Dad was a fantastic man. He was the perfect gentleman, with a very dry sense of humour. He meant the world to us, so it felt fitting to run in his honour. As a family, we decided that we would focus on raising funds for the local Inverclyde Dementia Resource Centre. Dad found so much happiness there, and the support given by all the staff was phenomenal. They are so experienced and professional, and we will always be grateful for their advice and intervention. 

"I’ve made it my mission to spread the word about this facility, letting Inverclyde residents know about the wonderful resource they have on their doorsteps. Being part of that special community allowed Dad to have new and different experiences that brought a twinkle to his eye. He loved music and was often able to enjoy musical activities at the centre. One day when we arrived to collect him, he was up dancing to a live musician! 

"Our fundraising efforts were a huge success, and we were overwhelmed by the donations that came in. In just a few short weeks, we were delighted to visit the centre again, but this time to donate a grand total of £4280! We hope it makes a difference to this wonderful facility and this assists in making sure that nobody faces dementia alone."

And if that wasn’t enough, Alistair’s grandchildren also known as ‘little Alzheimers warriors’ took part in the Reindeer 10k challenge to honour their much loved Grandad and raised a further £250 for Alzheimer Scotland. We would like to commend Fiona and her family for all their fundraising efforts and ensuring Alistair’s memory lives on.

Fiona completes London Marathon in memory of her dad
Fiona completing The London Marathon