Rachael Tackles 10K ‘To Put Smile Back On Nan’S Face’

Great Comeback 2

Entries for the Simplyhealth Great North 10k are open. Enter at: Greatrun.org/North10k

A woman will take on a 10k running challenge for charity after seeing the effects of Alzheimer's disease first hand when her grandmother was diagnosed with the condition.

Rachael Clark, from Newcastle, struggled with the impact that Alzheimer's had on her grandmother Mary Snowdon, after she was diagnosed in July 2015.

Rachael, who works as part of the Business Support Staff at Northumbria Police, has a close relationship with her Nan and describes their bond as ‘unique'.

After Mary's diagnosis, Rachael went from spending time outdoors with her almost every day to spending more time apart from each other, due to the huge change in her lifestyle.

She slowly began to see her memories of her nan be replaced by memories of her with the condition and wanted to raise awareness about the effect Alzheimer's can have on people and their families.

Rachael decided to support the Alzheimer's Society after finding help and advice on their website during Mary's diagnosis. She will fundraise for the charity by taking on the Simplyhealth Great North Run in September and the Simplyhealth Great North 10k Gateshead on Sunday 9 July.

Rachael hopes that by raising awareness about the effects of the disease, she can help to promote the charity that brings benefits to people in the same situation and to also put a smile on her grandmother's face.

Rachael said: “My relationship with my nan is unique. When I was younger at school every night I would receive a phone call from her just to catch up on daily events.

“We loved going out for a cup of tea to Newcastle and a wander around the city. My fondest memories of her would be walking around and she would constantly be interrupted by people who knew her.

“She loved it and loved showing me off too.

“However in 2015, my Nan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and my family and I have watched her go from being the most fun loving person who hated sitting in the house to someone who is glued to the sofa and cannot mentally take being around people.

“I didn't realise what the disease would do to impact her lifestyle and the family.

“At first, she was no different to my Nan before the diagnosis, but as the months went on she became less interested in going out.

“This was the biggest change in her lifestyle as she just did not have the mental strength to go out and be around others. It became so bad that last winter she would not even join us for Christmas Day.

“One of the hardest things is watching her change. The memories that I had of my Nan are starting to be replaced by the ones of her with Alzheimer's. Caring for her is impossible and she does not qualify for NHS care.

“This has effected the whole family and I truly believe Alzheimer's to be the most awful disease and I wanted to do something to raise awareness and to put a smile on my Nan's face.”

Rachael will join 5,000 others at the Simplyhealth Great North 10k when it returns to Gateshead in July. Thousands of people will run for fun, fitness and fundraising at the event which raised around half a million pounds for charity in 2016.

The event is the North East's biggest 10k and is the official training run for the Simplyhealth Great North Run, the world's biggest half marathon.

Runners travel along the NewcastleGateshead Quayside, passing sites such as the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Sage Gateshead before crossing the finish line in the iconic Gateshead International Stadium.

Rachael added: “My relationship with her is still strong and she regularly makes comments about how much she loves me and loves seeing me.

“I decided to enter the Simplyhealth Great North 10k as I believe it will be a great stepping stone in the training for the Simplyhealth Great North Run.

“I think it will really get me in the mood for the big day and help create a buzz around others who support the Alzheimer's Society.

“Running a 10k and a half marathon will make me feel proud to be involved with a charity that brings benefits to everyone in the same situation as my family and myself.

“Being able to see me cross the finish line will give my family and I some positive memories about the disease as well as making my Nan happy!”

Support Rachael's fundraising here.

Entries for the Simplyhealth Great North 10k are open. Enter at: Greatrun.org/North10k