Alzheimer’s Research UK and parkrun UK have announced they will be extending their partnership to 2023 thanks to the first three years’ success, which has seen parkrunners raise around £890,000 for pioneering dementia research.
The UK’s leading dementia research charity became the official charity partner of parkrun UK, which supports local communities in providing free, weekly 5km runs nationwide, in January 2015. The two organisations joined forces to promote exercise as a way of reducing the risk of developing dementia, increase public understanding of the condition and boost funds for vital research – and both have been delighted by the success of the partnership so far.
Around 11,000 parkrunners have joined the #TeamARUKparkrun movement and supported Alzheimer’s Research UK since the start of the partnership.
Ian Wilson, Executive Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We’re extremely proud to have extended our partnership with parkrun – a similarly innovative, forward-thinking and ambitious movement. We’re very excited to see how we can build on our initial success over the coming years.
“The partnership so far has shown just how dedicated parkrunners are and we can’t thank them enough for helping us raise such a phenomenal amount for dementia research.
“With 850,000 people affected by dementia in the UK, and a rapidly ageing population, we urgently need more investment in research to find ways to protect our brains as we get older. By joining in with parkrun and getting involved in this partnership, people can help take steps to keep their brains healthy and support research that could take us a step closer to a world free from the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”
The partnership’s biggest campaign to date is Running Down Dementia – the charity’s first virtual running event, which was launched in 2016 and asks participants to run 100km over the summer and raise £100. Over the two years the campaign has raised around £470,000 – enough to enable the charity to fund two major research projects.
Donate Your Time, the partnership’s exclusive campaign which asks parkrunners to convert their time in minutes and seconds into pounds and pence and donate it, has been run three times, raising more than £90,000.
Dedicated parkrunners have also taken on hundreds of challenges to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, including parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE who ran the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2016 and raised over £21,000.
A priority for the partnership is supporting a group of dedicated Dementia Champions who are helping to make parkruns across the country more accessible to people with dementia and their carers, either by running or walking the 5k or taking on voluntary roles.
Poolsbrook parkrunner Andy Morris is one of the top Running Down Dementia fundraisers having raised more than £5,000 in two years. Andy, who is also a Dementia Champion and parkrun dementia ambassador, was inspired to support Alzheimer’s Research UK as his mum Peggy, who died last year, had vascular dementia.
“It was running that helped me cope with what was happening to my family, so it is great that through parkrun I’ve been able to support Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“Dementia affects so many people – not only those living with the condition but also their families and carers so many of us will either be affected by it or know someone who is.
“It is a life-changing thing for all who are involved and can lead to social isolation for carers along with a great deal of stress often leading to ill health. It’s fantastic that parkrunners are helping to prevent this by raising funds for earlier diagnosis and drug discovery.”
Nick Pearson, CEO of parkrun, is also delighted with the success of the partnership.
“Our mission to create a healthier and happier planet goes hand in hand with Alzheimer’s Research UK’s message that regular exercise throughout our lives has a positive impact on brain health.
“When we first partnered with Alzheimer’s Research UK, it was essential for us that we were teaming up with a charity to whom we could make a significant contribution. The parkrun community duly responded by raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for vital research into one of the UK’s most damaging conditions, as well as boosting the public profile of the country’s leading dementia research charity.”
By visiting www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/parkrun people can learn more about the partnership, join parkrun, apply for charity places in events and discover exciting fundraising and volunteering opportunities.