I think it’s about time I introduced myself – I’m Jess, and I’ve been writing Alzheimer’s Research UK’s parkrun newsletter every week for nearly two years. I wanted to write something personal this week, as I’m sadly leaving my role as communications officer at the charity and this is my final newsletter.
When I first started at Alzheimer’s Research UK I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be partnered with parkrun. The parkrun movement has boomed and so many people I know have nothing but praise for the way parkrun has changed their lives and their families’ lives. Countless Alzheimer’s Research UK supporters have told me that parkrun, and the Running Down Dementia campaign, have been a wonderful coping mechanism to get them through the tough times along their journey with dementia.
The two organisations could not be a better fit for one another – together they’ve helped put public health and dementia prevention at the top of the UK’s agenda. This could not have been done without staff on both sides who care about the partnership. While so many of my colleagues attend parkrun every single week, parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt raised more than £17,000 for the charity at the Virgin Money London Marathon last year.
My passion to help dementia research started after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease over six years ago, and his symptoms started nine years prior to that when I was around 11 years old. At Alzheimer’s Research UK there are so many of us who are personally affected by dementia. The silver lining is that this has helped drive the charity to be the best it possibly can be. I’m so proud to have worked with people who care so much about the cause and share the same motivation.
Last year I ran the Vitality British 10k and raised more than £800 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I absolutely loved it and never would have had the confidence to do it without working in such a supportive environment. Meanwhile other members of staff have done their own fundraising for the charity, some even taking on marathons. It’s not just Alzheimer’s Research UK as an organisation that’s on a mission to end the fear, harm and heartbreak caused by dementia – all of us are, and it’s incredibly heartwarming to see.
To every parkrunner who has read the newsletter over the past two years, donated to the cause, talked to their friends about the partnership or read, watched or shared our content – thank you. The difference each and every one of you has made is a testament to the parkrun community, and as a relative of someone living with dementia I cannot express my gratitude enough.
Keep up the good work, and happy parkrunning!
P.S. I will be leaving our weekly updates in my colleague Guy Walker’s capable hands, so keep an eye out for our weekly updates.
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