Published: 05:00, 01 December 2021
Two siblings have raised more than £10,000 over an entire year of challenges in memory of their dad, who died from Alzheimer's disease.
Louise Nightingale from Four Elms, Tonbridge, and her brother Michael Wood have completed multiple fundraising tasks in what they call 'a year to remember'.
Their father, Jeff Wood, lived in Golden Green, near Tonbridge, and was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s in 2017.
He passed away last December.
Since then, his two children wanted to keep his memory alive while raising funds for the Alzheimer's Society charity.
Louise said: "Dad always found the positive in any situation and it seemed fitting that we take a leaf out of his book, honour his memory and push ourselves to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society, who mean a lot to us.
"We’ve shared stories of Dad with the many people we’ve met along the way, remembered him fondly and reminisced about the good times. We’ve laughed at the memories of his bad jokes and he’s been in our thoughts the whole time."
Louise kicked off their year to remember by taking part in Step Up for Dementia, a 850,000 step challenge which needs to be completed within three months.
She completed the task in just over a month and a half, taking an average of 17,500 steps a day.
Louise used the challenge as a platform to tell people more about dementia, as every day she would share her progress on social media together with a fact or information about the condition.
On March 10, on what would have been Jeff’s 78th birthday, Michael smashed his target of walking 78km in 24 hours and completed 100km instead.
He said his father was never far from his thoughts during the challenge.
In July, Louise and her husband took part in the South West ‘Coast to Coast Challenge’, a two-day 102km trek from Minehead, in Somerset to Dawlish, on the south coast of Devon.
She said: "It was without doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
"The weather was unkind on day one making the terrain difficult, and the camping overnight meant we didn’t get a quality sleep before starting again the next day.
"But with amazing support and encouragement from Michael, his wife Michelle and their two children, we crossed the finish line elated with a great sense of achievement albeit exhausted."
In August, the two siblings organised their own "Jeff Woodstock" music festival at dad’s local pub The Bell in Golden Green.
Local businesses provided donations and prizes for a raffle and bands performed free of charge.
The event raised more than £2000 and Jeff's children could not be happier.
Louise said: “I really was overwhelmed by the support we had from the pub, friends, dad’s neighbours and the musicians themselves to make the event the success it was. We loved every minute of the music festival, not only was it a great event to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society it was also a fitting send off for dad that we weren’t able to give him back in January due to lockdown."
Megan Guy, Alzheimer’s Society community fundraiser for Kent, paid tribute to Michael and Louise for their huge fundraising efforts.
"We’re absolutely blown away by all the time and effort Louise and Michael and have put into raising such an incredible amount of money for Alzheimer’s Society," she said.
"They are truly inspirational fundraisers and we are so grateful for their dedication, energy and support."