Rebecca shows true grit to complete gruelling charity challenge
- Credit: SUPPLIED
A woman who was told she might never walk again without crutches is encouraging people to take part in an inspirational challenge.
Rebecca Saunders-Brown, of Great Yarmouth, was left struggling to walk after an accident in 2014, caused by Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, which left her with severe nerve damage in her left foot.
Seven years on, and she defied the odds to complete a 5km Memory Walk on Great Yarmouth seafront in memory of her late grandmother, who passed away with dementia. It is the furthest Mrs Saunders-Brown has walked since her accident.
The Memory Walk is an inspirational walking challenge that raises awareness and supports the Alzheimer’s Society.
The 40-year-old is now encouraging others to don their walking boots with friends and family in a location of their choosing throughout September to raise vital funds for people affected by dementia.
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She said: “In 2017, I lost my beloved grandmother, Kate, to dementia.
“It was devastating to watch her gradual but inexorable decline. Grieving the loss of my nan as I knew her began many years before she passed away.
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"Anyone who has lost a loved one to dementia knows the pain that comes with watching your precious family member or friend gradually slip away from you.
“Before her dementia, she was an extremely active person, wife to her husband Bill until he passed away in 2007, mother to two children, grandmother to seven grandchildren, plus her great-grandchildren.
“She adored her family and loved to play bowls. She also had the softest hands I’ve ever known, and I used to love sitting next to her as a child while she tickled my arm or back.
“Dementia took everything from her, except for her soft hands. In the latter years, it was me and my children tickling her hands and arms while she lay in her bed in the nursing home."
Her call for Norfolk residents to lace up their walking boots comes at a critical time for those affected by dementia.
Over a year since the pandemic began, people with dementia are still bearing the brunt of coronavirus and demand for Alzheimer’s Society’s services is increasing.
She added: “Nannie Kate was my inspiration for challenging myself to walk 5km in support of Alzheimer’s Society. That may not sound like a long way for most people, but it is for me as I have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome - my joints are too bendy.
"An accident in 2014 also caused me to tear all the ligaments and tendons in my left foot.
“Initially, the trauma clinic consultant wasn’t sure if I’d ever walk without crutches again, but thankfully, after rehab physiotherapy, I graduated to a single walking stick."
Alzheimer's Society provides information and support, funds research, and campaigns to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia and the total cost of care for people with dementia in the UK is £34.7 billion.
Debbie Foster, Alzheimer’s Society area manager for Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “The last year has been tough for everyone, but for people living with dementia the impact of coronavirus has been catastrophic and every step our fundraisers take will make a huge difference by providing a lifeline for people affected by dementia who have been worst hit.
“We are in awe of our amazing supporters like Rebecca whose fundraising efforts help fund our services which have been used over five and a half million times since the first lockdown began in March 2020, showing people need us now more than ever.”
Visit memorywalk.org.uk to find out more about organising your own Memory Walk or taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s organised events this autumn. Alzheimer’s Society also provides a dementia support line on 0333 150 3456.