A fearless grandmother from Oxhey will test her head for heights when she takes part in a tandem paraglide to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK after her husband was diagnosed with the challenging illness.
Doreen Gatesman, 83, will complete her aerial adventure - weather permitting - on Tuesday, May 20, at Green Dragons paragliding and hang gliding centre in Woldingham, Surrey.
She originally wanted to skydive - but her GP put a stop to it.
Now the brave grandmother "can’t wait" to soar through the skies and will undertake the challenge with thoughts of her husband, James, in mind. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2003, aged 74.
Doreen, who has been practising running in preparation for her tandem paraglide, said: "I think paragliding could be something I end up getting hooked on.
"I wanted to do a skydive to celebrate my 80th birthday but my GP put a stop to that.
"I may have osteoporosis but I have been checked out and I am really looking forward to it.
"My son, Nigel, will be supporting me on the day and my daughter, Deborah, has made sure I’ve got a good pair of boots to wear to support my ankles."
James was 74 when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but that came after a two-year struggle of trying to find out what was wrong with him.
Doreen continued: "He would sit at home and say ‘nothing looks familiar’ and for that short moment he didn’t know where he was. We were shocked to realise how little money is available for research to finding the treatments so urgently needed.
"My husband is now in a home where he receives the specialist care that he needs. My family and I visit him regularly and I always look forward to seeing him. I know he would think I’m completely crazy for doing something like this but I’m determined to raise as much money as possible to help Alzheimer’s Research UK defeat this devastating disease."
Doreen’s daughter, Deborah, added: "When she said she was going to do this I wasn’t massively surprised because she’s game for anything. Dad loved Mum’s spirit and I know he would be incredibly proud of her, just like me and the rest of her family."
Jodie Vaughan, community fundraising manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: "We are very excited that Doreen has set herself this incredible challenge and we wish her every success.
"Doreen and her family have raised thousands of pounds for Alzheimer’s Research UK over the past five years and their amazing efforts are bringing us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia."
Anyone wishing to help Doreen raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK can make a donation online at www.justgiving.com/Doreen-Gatesman. For more information about Alzheimer’s Research UK call 0300 111 5555 or visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org.