Pals paddle coast-to-coast to raise money for dementia charity

Two friends are set to paddle across England to raise funds for a cause close to their hearts.

By Phil Cunnington
Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 7:00 am

Julian Pletts and Richard Swingle will kayak coast-to-coast via the country’s canal network in aid of Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity.

The epic 162-mile journey will take them from Liverpool to Goole, passing through villages, towns and cities that have played a major role in the industrial revolution and textile industries.

Julian, 36 from Parbold, near Wigan, is a magazine editor and founder of Blueprint Social, a social media management and content creation agency.

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Julian Pletts, from Parbold, is kayaking coast to coast across the countrys canals to raise money for Alzheimers Society

Richard, also 36, from Brighton, is a cinematographer and fantasy novelist. The pair met at university in Wales and have remained friends ever since.

Julian said: “Our friends know that we are wired slightly differently and that we love taking on large challenges that others think might not be doable.

“While the canal is often a tranquil and serene place, the sheer distance involved along with hundreds of locks and lock barriers that we will have to lift the fully laden two-person kayak over will certainly make this a physical challenge to which we hope we can rise.”

The pair plan to set off on August 8 and hope to raise around £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Society. They are already closing in on their first £1,000.

Julians grandparents, John and Yvonne Eaton, who both died after suffering from dementia

This will be Julian’s second fund-raising challenge for the charity, following on from last year’s unsupported cycle ride from Lands’ End to John O’Groats.

He said: “The reason I am so passionate about raising money for Alzheimer’s Society is I was so deeply impacted by watching both of my grandparents succumb to dementia and, ultimately, sadly pass away with the condition.

“I was a teenager at the time and it was so tough to reconcile the fond memories I had of my grandad, a whip-sharp engineer and jolly prankster, and my loving, artistic gran, with the confused mental faculties and physically diminished states they both demonstrated in the later stages of the disease. Now, I just try to focus on the fond memories and hold those dear.

“I dream one day of there being a cure and for families to not have to experience loved ones forgetting who they are or witness the internal struggle of someone who is trapped inside a body and a mind that is degenerating and they have no control over it.”

Cinematographer Richard Swingle is paddling cross-country using the canal network with Julian Pletts, from Parbold, in aid of Alzheimers Society

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including an estimated 90,000 in the North West and more than 3,000 in Brighton.

Sue Swire, Community Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “I can’t thank Julian and Richard enough for their support – the scale of the challenge they are undertaking is immense.

“Right now, people living with dementia need our support more than ever because of how hard the coronavirus pandemic has hit them. A quarter of those who have died from Covid-19 had dementia.

“Since the lockdown began our trained staff have made more than 106,000 welfare calls to people with dementia and their carers to offer support, information and to reassure them that they are not alone. Every penny raised by our dedicated fundraisers is helping us to continue this vital work.”

Julian and Richard have set up a JustGiving page for anyone wishing to donate to their cause. Visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rjcoasttocoast