Durham pensioner tackles iconic 874 mile walk to raise funds for Alzheimers Society

A North East pensioner is marking his 80th year by embarking on a ‘virtual walk’ from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society. 

Gordon Hull, of Bearpark, Durham, began his challenge to clock up 874 miles – the equivalent of the iconic journey – on New Year’s Day and aims to complete it before the end of June.

“I saw an item on the news about the number of people affected by dementia and decided there and then I wanted to do something to help,” explained Gordon, a former Heritage Parks Project Officer for Aberdeen City Council. 

“Like most of us, I know of people who have the condition, but not any close friends or family members.

"I just feel there should be more awareness of dementia so that more people are inspired to raise money to support those affected by it and to help find a cure.”

Gordon, whose 80th birthday is in May, uses a GPS watch to record his daily walks in and around County Durham.

This links to an app that keeps track of his progress along the virtual route, telling him where he is at any given time. He aims to clock up between 40 to 50 miles a week.

And this is not the first time he has set himself an ambitious target. Gordon has previously walked 1,000 miles to raise funds for a local primary school and climbed 29,029 ft – the equivalent of Mount Everest – in the Lake District and North Pennines in support of the charity Children North East.

He says this extraordinary journey will allow him to keep motivated and active, achieve physical goals and stimulate his mental and physical wellbeing, which is vitally important in the present crisis.

Gordon said: “To most people dementia is associated with loss of memory, and we all can forget a name or face as we get older.

"But dementia is more than that. It is caused when a disease damages nerve cells in the brain.

“These cells carry messages between different parts of the brain, and to other parts of the body. As more nerve cells are damaged, the brain becomes less able to work properly.

"Sadly, at present, there is no cure for dementia, but scientists and researchers are working hard to find one.”

There are 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including 39,000 across the North East and almost 10,000 in County Durham and Darlington. By 2025, the national figure will be one million.

Siobhan Marsh, Community Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society in the North East, said: “It has been an incredibly difficult two years for people affected by dementia and they need our support now more than ever.