Man tackles Great North Run to raise awareness of rare dementia

Man Tackles Great North Run To Raise Awareness Of Rare DementiaDavid and Louise Brown with their children Elliott and Phoebe

A truck driver with a passion for running will be taking on the Great North Run next month to raise money for Alzheimer s Research UK after seeing his family affected by a rare form of dementia. David Brown, who lives in Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire, will be completing the famous Newcastle and Gateshead course on Sunday 11 September. The 39-year-old hopes that through running the half-marathon, he will be able to raise money for dementia research while also increasing awareness of a rare condition that has affected his family frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FTD accounts for less than five percent of all dementia cases and is usually early-onset, meaning it affects people aged under 65. David s father-in-law, Dean Clarke, was diagnosed when he was 48, although his symptoms started in his mid-thirties. Unlike most forms of dementia, his condition has been passed through his family because of a faulty gene he is not the first in the family to have it and unfortunately probably won t be the last.

David said: Early-onset dementia is a condition that destroys lives and leaves a huge emotional footprint on loved ones loved ones who have to watch someone, once the centre of their world, become the centre of their care. That s why I m raising money for dementia research.

Man Tackles Great North Run To Raise Awareness Of Rare DementiaDean Clarke

David aimed to raise 400 for Alzheimer s Research UK but has already smashed this target with over 500 in the pot. He has two children Elliott, four, and Phoebe, three with his wife, Louise Brown. Dean, Louise s father, died in 2014 after a long battle with FTD, aged 63. Dean s wife, Jackie, cared for him with the help of their children, Louise and Anna. The sisters were aged just eight and nine when they first started caring for their dad. This continued until the last two years of his life when he lost his mobility and had to move into a care home. For the last eight months, he needed full nursing care and could not communicate in any way. Louise, 35, said: Dad was a very kind, gentle-natured man, who owned his own business a furniture shop in Derby. In the early stages of the condition, he became short-tempered, aggressive and agitated it wasn t like him at all. His personality changed completely and his short-term memory disappeared. At work, he soon stopped being able to handle money and made mistakes with orders.

FTD affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which control behaviour, personality, emotions and language. Common symptoms include behavioural changes, often including a decrease in inhibitions, lack of social and personal awareness, changes in personality and difficulty carrying out daily tasks.

Man Tackles Great North Run To Raise Awareness Of Rare DementiaDavid and Louise Brown

Louise commented: Over time, Dad became more and more childlike. FTD is a cruel condition. Dad loved talking but he was robbed of the ability. He also loved walking but dementia took away his mobility. Dean decided when he still had capacity that he wanted to donate his brain and spinal cord to the MRC London Neurodegenerative Diseases Brain Bank at King s College London when he died. This is part of the Brains for Dementia Research scheme, an initiative part-funded by Alzheimer s Research UK that allows scientists to advance dementia research by studying affected brain tissue. This research was important to the family, as Louise explained: Unfortunately, Dad s illness isn t a one-off his mum, aunt and grandmother all had FTD. It runs in the family, caused by a very rare faulty gene. This means that my sister and I have a 50/50 chance of developing it, and my children are at risk too. I don t want to be like that and I don t want my children caring for me as I did for my dad. That s why dementia research matters. I m so proud of Dave for doing the Great North Run for Alzheimer s Research UK.

Alzheimer s Research UK powers studies into a range of different types of dementia, including not only FTD, but also Alzheimer s disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. For families with a high risk of dementia like the Browns, genetic testing is available and can be accessed through a GP.

Kenneth Foreman, Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer s Research UK, said:

Genetic forms of dementia are very rare, but when they occur they can devastate families. Only research can beat this awful condition. We re so grateful to David for taking on the Great North Run and to the whole family for their incredible support.

To sponsor David, go to[1]

For more information about Alzheimer s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit

To find out more about Brains for Dementia Research, visit


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