Ewhurst Green runner scoops radio honour for dementia research support
Inspirational runner Susie Hewer, from Ewhurst Green in East Sussex, has been named a Community Hero by her local radio station. The 56 year old scooped the Fundraiser of the Year title at this year’s BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey Community Heroes Awards for raising awareness and vital funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Now in its third year, the ceremony recognises people’s outstanding achievements and contributions to local life. Susie swapped her running shoes for high heels to attend the event at the South Lodge Hotel, Horsham, on Wednesday 11 December.
Susie took up running in 2002 and ran her first marathon two weeks after her mum, Peggy, died with vascular dementia in 2005. Over the past eight years she has entered dozens of races in her memory, including 31 marathons, to boost funds for the UK’s leading dementia research charity.
Susie, known as the ‘Extreme Knitting Redhead’, was the first person to run a marathon while knitting and set the Guinness World Record for creating the longest scarf over the 26.2-mile distance. To date, Susie, who only runs and knits during the London Marathon as a way of raising awareness of the charity’s work, has raised over £30,000 for pioneering dementia research.
Her running efforts this year started with the Brighton Marathon on 14 April, followed by the London Marathon one week later, where she beat her own world record by knitting a scarf two metres and five centimetres long. Following the race across the capital, Susie started a 111-day running challenge. She began running 5.5 miles for 55 consecutive days up until her birthday in June and then increased her daily run to 5.6 miles, to match her age, for another 56 days.
Earlier this year she also celebrated being crowned Fundraiser of the Year by Arrow FM, a radio station covering the Hastings area, and being shortlisted for a Daily Mirror Pride of Britain award.
Susie, a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“I was thrilled to be nominated for a Community Hero award and to be one of the four finalists was brilliant. The whole event was wonderful and I met some truly inspirational people who have done amazing things for others and I felt humbled by their stories. I never dreamt that I would win and when my name was read out as the winner it took a few moments for it to sink in!
“I am delighted that the need for research into dementia is now receiving more attention but I am painfully aware that it is still desperately underfunded and so I shall continue to don my running shoes in 2014, defeating dementia, in my own way, one step at a time.”
Sara David, Editor of BBC Sussex, explained why Susie was chosen to receive the award:
“Susie is an incredible and inspirational woman who raises money to help and support a cause close to her heart. Susie has demonstrated commitment to fundraising over a long period of time in a number of varied and creative ways. Susie is also a real voice helping to increase awareness of dementia and helping others understand the condition. Susie is a real Community Hero.”
Jodie Vaughan, Community Fundraising Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Susie is an amazing woman and thoroughly deserves to be crowned a Community Hero. We can’t thank her enough for her continued efforts to raise money for pioneering research. During the past eight years Susie has raised over £30,000 for the charity, enough to pay for 1,500 hours of world-class research and vital equipment for our scientists. Her remarkable efforts are helping bring us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK living with dementia today, including over 10,000 people in East Sussex – one of the highest county figures. Surrounding those people is a network of family members and carers profoundly affected by the condition. Dementia poses one of the greatest threats to public health now and in the future, but funding for research still lags far behind other serious diseases. We are so grateful to Susie and to all our wonderful supporters, who we rely on to fund our crucial research.”