Lowestoft runner will complete Great North Run for mother and aunt

Angela McNamara is running the Great North Run in September in memory of her mum and aunt who died

Angela McNamara is running the Great North Run in September in memory of her mum and aunt who died from Alzheimer's disease.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

A runner from Lowestoft will be thinking of her loved ones this month as she battles through back pain to complete a charity challenge in their memory.

Angela McNamara is taking part in the 13-mile Great North Run in Newcastle on September 15 to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Society.

Her mother Ann McNamara, from Gorleston, and aunt Kate Barton, who lived in Doncaster, both suffered from the debilitating disease before they died.

Ms McNamara, 56, said she had taken up running at 40 and completed several full and half marathons, including the Great North Run, but reduced her activity 18 months ago when she began to suffer back pain.

She said she had harboured doubts about taking part in this year's gruelling event but had resolved to do it for the memory of her loved ones.

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'Training has been so hard this summer in the heat and with injuries,' she said. 'I thought I might have to pull out but I made a decision I am definitely going to do it.

'I always used to try and get the fastest time whenever I took part but this time it isn't for me, it is for somebody else. My only ambition is just to get over the finish line.'

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Ann McNamara died on her 83rd birthday in December 2012, She had suffered with Alzheimer's disease for more than four years and had been unable to walk for the last two years of her life.

Before her death, Mrs McNamara was looked after at home by her husband John with the support of carers, who visited four times a day.

The couple had previously worked as hoteliers in Great Yarmouth.

Kate Barton died in March 2012 aged 91

Ms McNamara, who works at Vision Express in Lowestoft, said: 'It is a very upsetting disease for the whole family.

'My mum didn't know her sister had died. We didn't want to get her upset by telling her.

'With my mum and my aunt it was their short-term memory that was affected. They couldn't tell you what had happened that day but could remember certain things from their childhood.

'My mum couldn't remember where she was. She thought she was in houses that we had lived in previously. She would say to my dad that she wanted to go upstairs but they lived in a bungalow.

'We were lucky that my mum knew me and my brother and sister right to the end but some people don't even know their family when they visit.'

Ms McNamara, who lives in Robin Hill with her partner Mark Sillett, said she wanted to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease to improve understanding of the illness and care for sufferers.

'It is important because I imagine there is quite a large percentage of families that are touch by dementia,'she added.

Ms McNamara will be completing the Great North Run with friend Paula Lambert, who lives in Lincolnshire and is raising funds for Mencap.

To support Ms McNamara, donate online at www.justgiving.com/Angela-McNamara. Sponsorship forms are also available in The Commodore pub, Broadview Wine Bar and The Third Crossing restaurant, all in Oulton Broad, and Vision Express in London Road North.

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