For more information about the Simplyhealth Great North Run, visit our website.

A runner from York has entered the Simplyhealth Great North Run to raise money for a charity which brings sports to patients with dementia. 

Megan Hale, 26, is running the half marathon for the Sporting Memories Foundation, a local charity which tackles dementia, depression and loneliness through memories of sport. 

The charity aims to bring older people in the community together through a shared love of sport. 

Megan, who works for the charity, said: “I have been fortunate enough to experience first-hand how talking about sport can reconnect people who have been diagnosed with dementia and put them on a level playing field (pun intended) as their peers who haven't a diagnosis. 

“I have been told by carers that in our sessions where we do physical activity that it is amazing to see their partners doing the things that they used to do, such as playing darts and walking football.

“Sporting Memories uses images, memorabilia, like old football shirts and scarves, as a tool for stimulating conversations.

“We are tapping into passions for sport, sharing memories and reawakening positive thoughts and feelings, which may otherwise remain hidden away.

“To some of the members the Sporting Memories sessions are the highlight of their week and it's something that they look forward to. 

“Aside from hospital appointments or doctor's visits, it is the only time they get out of the house, so Sporting Memories can provide a much-needed break for them.”

Megan can understand the transformative power of sports herself after doing a degree in Sports Development.

She said: “I have always been active, starting as a keen cross country runner in my early teens. 

“Through air cadets, I found I enjoyed running and decided to join my local running club.”

She added: “My first experience of a ‘big run' was back in 2012 when I completed the Great North Run for the first time.

“Last year I completed my second half marathon and achieved my first time below two hours, so I'm going to try to improve on my time this year.”

Megan will be joining thousands of other runners at the Simplyhealth Great North Run on Sunday 10 September.

She said: “It will always be a physical challenge to run any distance, but I find the atmosphere at the Great North Run is on another level!

“Hearing complete strangers cheering you on helps to carry you through to the end.”

With the support of the crowds and Megan's personal motivation to raise money, she will keep motivated to cross the finish line in South Shields this September.

She said: “I have seen how the work we do impacts on the everyday lives of not only those living with dementia, depression or in social isolation, but of their carers and loved ones. 

“It's amazing how just simply sitting and chatting to a person about their passion can light up their face and spark so many more conversations about everything else in their life.”

Find out more about the Sporting Memories Foundation here.

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great North Run, visit our website.