Sheffield husband raises £20,000 after wife diagnosed with Alzheimers at 52
After months of training (including 100 consecutive days of running during the 2020 lockdown) Clive Downing became increasingly frustrated as the year’s London Marathon kept getting postponed, and finally became a virtual ‘run wherever you like’ event.
Clive’s wife, Jayne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2015, at the age of 52. As Jayne’s condition deteriorated, Clive joined the Steel City Striders running club “to run off some steam and keep myself physically and mentally fit,” he said.
“If I was just sat at home being a carer 24/7 I think I’d crack up.” So while Jayne’s ‘two lovely carers’ are looking after Jayne, Clive, from Wadsley, often sets out for a run with friends from the Striders or his local Hillsborough and Rivelin Running Club.
Clive began fundraising for the Alzheimer's Society, and soon reached his original £2,000 target as donations poured in from running, football, golf and other activities arranged by family and friends. The target (at https://justgiving.com/fundraising/Clive-Downing ) is now £20,000 - and he’s already at over £19,000.
Running the 2020 London Marathon was a key aim for Clive, despite concerns about how to run under Covid rules. “It was looking as if you wouldn’t be able to run with anyone else, and I said to my running friends I just can’t do it on my own.”
But the rules changed, and the Striders organised teams of five co-runners to join Clive on six mile stretches of the old inner city Sheffield Marathon route, which he eventually completed in four hours 24 minutes. “It was absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“And then Jayne came in with her arms out at the end, bless her, which really made me break down.”
Clive had no idea Alzheimer’s could effect someone as young as his wife, but soon after the diagnosis he and his two daughters Hannah and Faye, his son in law Ian, and grandchildren Jacob, Georgia, Freddie and Marnie decided to use fundraising to help people like Jayne in future.
In the early stages, Jayne was just very forgetful, and was able to carry on with much of her life, with help. But as the condition has worsened, she can no longer support herself or even speak, says Clive.
“If I give her a hug, she’ll rub my back, and sometimes we get a little smile from her,” he says. “I just wish we were fundraising for someone else, not my wife. But I know what we raise will help other people.”
Some blokes bottle up their feelings, says Clive. “But my advice is open up and talk about it, let people know. And if you know someone in a situation like mine, phone them up and see how they are.”
Clive says he’s so grateful for all his local support from runners, fellow members of Hillsborough Golf Club, and local businesses offering auction prizes, including Bibis restaurant who donated a meal for four.
For several years, Clive and Jayne have also joined in the Cycling 4 All project in Hillsborough Park, where people with disabilities can cycle alongside family members on special trikes.
“Sheffield Cycle 4 All have given us and Jayne endless hours of fun in a safe and inclusive environment,” said Clive. “It’s fantastic just to be able to get out in the fresh air together.”
Following a recent ‘Race Night’ fundraiser, Clive and family decided to donate £1,000 of the proceeds to Sheffield Cycle 4 All.
“We appreciate the support they have given us, not only through the donation, but also by coming down to cycle, and promoting the work we do to other people, so that more people can cycle and enjoy the benefits,” said Sheffield Cycling 4 All project coordinator Rosemary Hill. “They are ambassadors for our project!”
Clive finally ran the London Marathon last month, in five hours. “It was a way of saying thank you to all those people who sponsored me, while I’d done nothing. I thought it was about time I had a bit of pain!”