Three friends take on 60-mile walk in memory of NHS nurse who died with rare form of dementia

Three friends are lacing up their boots for a 60-mile walk in memory of walker’s late wife, who died with a rare form of dementia.

Stockton man Dr John Hirst is taking on the challenge with friends Patricia Husband and Terry Owens in memory of his late wife Pat and in support of dementia research. Pat was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which impacts the parts of the brain that control speech and behaviour, in her early 60s and died just five years later at just 66 years of age.

John said: “Pat was diagnosed with FTD in 2012, 18 months after her retirement as a nurse in the NHS. Following her diagnosis her decline was rapid, resulting in loss of speech, an inability to swallow and for the final months she was forced to use a wheelchair.

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“Throughout all of this she was always able to recognise us all and was aware until very close to the end of her life. Since her diagnosis I have been helping to raise awareness of young onset dementia and also raise funds for Alzheimer's Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity dedicated to understanding the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dementia.”

The trio’s journey will take them through County Durham; from Stockton to Newcastle-upon-Tyne over five days from Monday, May 13 to Friday, May 17 to mark Dementia Awareness Week. The walk will go through well-known towns and villages throughout the county and culminates in Newcastle at the Campus for Aging and Vitality where Alzheimer's Research UK sponsor scientists working to find a cure for the diseases that cause dementia.

Sara Hoxhaj, North East Regional Fundraising Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are so grateful to John, Patricia and Terry for taking on this walking challenge in memory of John’s wife Pat. We could not do the work we do without supporters like them.

“Their incredible efforts help us power the most forward-thinking scientists working to find a cure for dementia. We can’t wait to follow their journey during Dementia Awareness Week.”

John, Patricia and Terry are aiming to raise £2,000 to help fund vital dementia research in the North East, to sponsor them visit where they will be blogging about each day's walk. For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, Call 0300 111 5333 or email