London Marathon’s £3million boost for the Dementia Revolution

Over 2,000 people have led the charge towards a cure for dementia, after running the Virgin Money London Marathon for the Dementia Revolution.

Their inspirational efforts have helped to raise more than £3 million so far for the campaign – which saw Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK join forces to become the Charity of the Year for Virgin Money and the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.

Nearly 900 volunteers also took to the streets of London on Sunday 28 April to cheer on all the people running for the Dementia Revolution.

London Marathon's £3million boost for the Dementia Revolution
Carli Pirie

The funds raised from the one-year campaign will be used to help fund groundbreaking research at the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI), which is bringing together the brains of scientists from six cutting-edge research centres across the UK. Dementia research has historically been chronically underfunded – only 0.3% of its overall cost is invested in research currently.

Dame Barbara Windsor, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, was one of many celebrities to throw their support behind the campaign. Barbara’s husband, Scott Mitchell, and some of her former cast-mates who met on the EastEnders set, including Jake Wood and Natalie Cassidy, ran the race for the Dementia Revolution. The group, known as Barbara’s Revolutionaries, has already raised over £133,000.

Other high-profile runners included social media star Saffron Barker, Bake Off star Candice Brown, The Apprentice winner Mark Wright, and Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns MP.

They ran alongside a wider team of Revolutionaries that included Harry Cullen, 63, and multi-marathon runner and retired Methodist Minister Malcolm Brookes, 78, who are both living with dementia; UK DRI scientists Dr Amanda Heslegrave and Dr Luke Whiley; and Big Ben runner Lukas Bates. A video of Lukas struggling to cross the finish the line of the London Marathon because of the height of his suit went viral. He has so far raised over £5,000.

London Marathon's £3million boost for the Dementia Revolution
Chris Evans © Brendan Foster Photography/Alzheimer’s Research UK

Ray Winstone, Olympic marathon runner Ron Hill, Sir Richard Branson and a host of other famous faces have also spoken out in support of the Dementia Revolution and comedian Mark Watson held a 26.2hr-long comedy marathon in February, raising over £20,000 for the campaign.

Around 127 of the Dementia Revolution runners were from Virgin Money and CYBG. Colleagues have been supporting the Dementia Revolution over the last year, through the Corporate Partnership. So far, they have raised over £291,000 – making it Virgin Money’s most successful Corporate Partnership to date.

When the campaign launched last May, the charities set an ambitious fundraising target of £3.5million. With donations still pouring in, they are confident they will hit the target in the coming months.

There are almost one million people in the UK living with dementia, yet there are currently no treatments to slow, stop or prevent the diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that cause it. It’s hoped the research funded by the Dementia Revolution will lead the charge towards a cure.

As well as raising vital funds for research, an important part of the Dementia Revolution has been to overthrow old attitudes about dementia and show that it is not a lost cause. Many people have shared their own personal experience of dementia to raise awareness of the cause, while celebrities also came together for a myth-busting film.

Scott Mitchell, Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband, said:

“Since Barbara’s diagnosis, I have often felt so powerless because there is no cure for dementia. But running the Virgin Money London Marathon for the Dementia Revolution has given me an incredible opportunity to make a stand against dementia. The experience has been one of the proudest and most humbling experiences of my life, creating new-found friendships, support networks and a love for running. In speaking out about mine and Barbara’s experience of dementia, I hope I have helped others to understand the condition and the importance of funding for research.”

Lukas Bates, who attempted to set a world record as the faster runner dressed as a landmark building, said:

“I wanted to create a buzz around the Dementia Revolution, as it’s a cause so close to my heart. I’ve had two grandparents with Alzheimer’s disease, and I thought it would be a good way to get people to raise money. And it worked out so much better than I could have hoped. So many people have sponsored me since I finished the race and saw the footage of me crossing the finishing line. I didn’t think I was going to have a problem, but I just couldn’t get through it. But it was an incredible day and the Dementia Revolution cheer station supporters were amazing.”

Jeremy Hughes, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“It was incredible to see the Dementia Revolution come to life at the Virgin Money London Marathon, and it’s a such a privilege to be part of this campaign. What we’ve achieved will have a huge impact on all the people affected by dementia today, and those in the future. It’s been inspiring to see all the people who have joined the Dementia Revolution and to hear about their motivations. We are so grateful for their support and it’s because of them that we will triumph over dementia by powering the UK DRI, helping to change the lives of so many people with dementia, their families and their friends.”

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Thanks to our brilliant partnership with Virgin Money and the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, we have brought dementia out of the shadows and led the charge towards a cure. This would not have been possible without the incredible support of all the people who stood with us. From the tireless fundraising efforts of Virgin Money colleagues to our Revolutionaries who have shared their personal experience of dementia and all of those who took to the streets of London on Sunday – you are the Dementia Revolution. While this historic campaign will now come to an end, together we have created a lasting legacy for dementia research. Through the UK DRI, we will fund the most groundbreaking research that will enable us to transform lives.”

Hugh Brasher, London Marathon Event Director, said:

“The 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon was an extraordinary day in our history as we celebrated raising more than £1 billion for charity since 1981. We would like to congratulate everyone involved in Dementia Revolution and we are proud to have supported this transformational moment for fundraising and research.”