Television medic Dr Pixie McKenna is calling for people in Cambridgeshire to sign up for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s annual sponsored Big Walk this summer to help raise money for pioneering dementia research. For a fourth year running, fundraisers from across the county and beyond are being challenged to pull on their walking boots and stride out to help defeat dementia. Dr Pixie – best known for her roles in Channel 4 shows Embarrassing Bodies and Food Hospital – will start the walk at Milton Country Park on Sunday 13 July. The event is set to be the biggest yet, with the Great Abington-based charity aiming to raise £45,000 – enough to fund a pilot project to test new ideas in dementia research.
Dr Pixie, who lives in Cambridge and trained at Addenbrooke’s Hospital before becoming a GP, said:
“As a doctor I know only too well how challenging dementia is for countless families, and with a lack of treatments available, research is absolutely vital. I’m delighted to give my backing to the Big Walk – it’s a fantastic way to raise much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK while getting active. We all know exercise is good for our health, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that keeping fit can help reduce the risk of dementia, as well as other conditions. Walking is a great form of exercise that most people can do and I’m really looking forward to taking part. If you can, I ask that you join me on 13 July and make your move to defeat dementia.”
The Big Walk includes a choice of two routes, with the main 10k challenge leading walkers along the banks of the River Cam and a 5k route allowing fundraisers to explore Milton Country Park’s picturesque walking trails. Walkers can bring a picnic and will be able to enjoy a range of entertainment at the end of the route, including live music, children’s games and activities, and gift stalls.
Alzheimer’s Research UK Champion Sarah King, from Linton in Cambridgeshire, is all too aware of the need for research: her husband Andrew was only 43 when he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Now 51, Andrew needs full time care and is unable to walk, talk or feed himself. Sarah has been a committed supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK since she took part in the first ever Big Walk in 2011.
“When Andrew was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s our lives were turned upside down, and watching his decline has been heartbreaking. Taking part in the Big Walk I was among people who understood, and it helped me feel I was doing something positive to fight this dreadful disease. I’ve been supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK ever since, and the Big Walk is always a fantastic event. Last year I volunteered as a helper – this year I haven’t decided whether I’ll be volunteering or walking but whatever I decide, I hope to see lots of other people there.”
Jodie Vaughan, Community Fundraising Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“We’re thrilled to have Dr Pixie’s support and we’re sure that her presence on the day will be a great boost for those taking part. Our annual Big Walk is always a great day out, and this year we’re planning our best event yet. Walkers can expect fun for all the family, with plenty of activities to get involved in beyond the walk itself.
“Currently around 7,500 people in Cambridgeshire are living with dementia, yet we lack a way to stop the diseases that cause it. Every £20 raised in sponsorship is enough to pay for another hour of research to bring new treatments for dementia closer. We rely on our supporters to help fund our research, and we hope to welcome lots of them at this year’s Big Walk.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Big Walk starts at 10am on Sunday 13 July from Milton Country Park, Milton, CB24 6AZ. To take up the challenge visit www.bigwalk.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 111 5 777. All participants are encouraged to raise sponsorship for the challenge. Registration fees to help cover the cost of the walk are £15 for adults, £7.50 for under 18s, while under-threes are free.