Forty four-year-old Rachel Goldthorpe from Cardiff is running our WR10K Race Series next month for Alzheimer’s Society.
Having directly experienced a family member suffering from dementia disease, Alzheimer’s Society is a charity extremely close to Rachel’s heart. Rachel’s partner’s mother, Gene Beach, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago at the age of 76 and sadly passed away this year.
For Rachel, being able to fund raise for a charity that works to improve the quality of life for people affected by dementia, by doing something she loved, seemed the perfect tribute to Gene.
Gene’s dementia had a massive impact on the lives of Rachel’s family, both physically and emotionally. Gene’s gradually deteriorating condition left her vulnerable and requiring constant care from the family. “We had to become extremely organised in our lives so that someone visited her several times a day to ensure that she was fed and safe,” said Rachel, “this, when you are working full time and have families is not always so easy.” Eventually, Gene needed 24-hour care and went to live in a nursing home.
Emotionally, to see Gene robbed of her freedom and dignity was hugely distressing and saddening for the family. “Gene was adored by her three sons and it caused them great heartache to see their once vibrant mother become so ill,” said Rachel.
A positive, enthusiastic person, Gene led a very busy life. During her working life, Gene was a psychiatric nurse and upon retirement, spent much of her time doing voluntary work. “She loved her garden, travelling and reading and adored her grandchildren,” said Rachel. She added:
“All this changed when she became ill. At first it was gradual, forgetting small things but you could see how much it frustrated her, as if she seemed to know what was happening to her.
“As it progressed she could no longer do the things she had loved to do and even making a cup of tea, read a book or have a conversation was impossible.”
Rachel took up running at the end of 2014 and has since not looked back. “I work in a bank and was chatting to one of my customers who runs as a hobby,” said Rachel. “He had been running for years and had completed many races, so I cheekily asked if I could run with him and, surprisingly, he said yes!”
Rachel now runs three to four times a week and is excited to take part in a race that is completely accessible to beginners. “The emphasis seems to be on enjoying the event, so I know that if I have to run, walk or hop around the course next month then that will be fine!”