Former Lancaster man takes on 100k challenge in memory of wife who died from dementia

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A former Lancaster resident returns to the area this June during his 100k running challenge in memory of his wife who died from early onset dementia.

Patricia Hirst was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia 10 years ago and died in 2017, aged 66.

In her memory, Dr John Hirst is taking on a challenge of running five 10k events plus 10 5k parkruns and on the weekend of June 11-12, will complete the 5k parkrun on Saturday followed by the 10k event on Sunday, both along Morecambe Promenade

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John said: “Pat was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2012, 18 months after her retirement as a nurse in the NHS.”

John and Patricia Hirst.John and Patricia Hirst.
John and Patricia Hirst.

“Her decline was rapid resulting in loss of speech, an inability to swallow and for the final months she was forced to use a wheelchair.

"Throughout her ordeal she was always able to recognise us all and was aware until very close to the end of her life.”

The couple moved to Lancaster in 1978 and their sons, Ian, Robert and David were born at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

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John initially worked in Lancaster University’s Environmental Sciences Department before becoming lab manager with Pye’s Farm Feeds.

John and Patricia Hirst in happy times.John and Patricia Hirst in happy times.
John and Patricia Hirst in happy times.

Pat took a career break while in Lancaster where she was an active member of the Cathedral congregation and involved in several groups there including the mother and baby club.

John played at Torrisholme Cricket Club for several years.

His run along Morecambe Promenade will bring back memories of happy summer days with the boys on the beach there.

“We'd get the Ribble bus across from Lancaster and spend the afternoon on the sands enjoying ice cream before returning home.

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Patricia Hirst pictured in Atkinson's shop in Lancaster.Patricia Hirst pictured in Atkinson's shop in Lancaster.
Patricia Hirst pictured in Atkinson's shop in Lancaster.

“On one occasion when we visited in January, I remember being in Morecambe with Ian and for the only time in my life I saw ice in the sea.”

No doubt the weather will be much warmer for John’s run. He has so far raised £762 for Alzheimer’s Research UK in the North East where he now lives, so hopes to top £1,000 as the runs progress.

To sponsor him click here where he will also blog about each run.

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are the leading cause of death in the UK, particularly in women.

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, call 0300 111 5333 or email [email protected]