Dementia charities join forces for 2019 London Marathon campaign

Hackney-born actor Ray Winstone is challenging runners inspired by last weekend’s Virgin Money London Marathon to secure their place in next year’s event to help raise over £3.5m for groundbreaking dementia research.

The call comes as Virgin Money, the race sponsors, named dementia charities Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK as Charity of the Year for 2019.

The two charities will join forces for a year-long campaign, called Dementia Revolution, as Charity of the Year for Virgin Money and the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon. The campaign aims to overthrow old attitudes to dementia and raise millions of pounds for the most ambitious dementia research initiative the UK has ever seen, working to find better treatments and a cure – the UK Dementia Research Institute.

Dementia is the biggest health threat facing society with almost a million people living with it in the UK – it is now the country’s leading cause of death, ahead of heart disease. Despite dementia being caused by physical diseases like Alzheimer’s, funding for dementia research has long lagged behind other common conditions. There are currently no effective treatments to slow, prevent or cure the diseases that cause it but scientists are working tirelessly to beat the condition

The UK Dementia Research Institute was launched in 2016 with funding from the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK and will see over 700 researchers working at 6 centres across the country – revolutionising dementia research.

In the launch video for the Dementia Revolution, which sees runners uniting on the streets of London, Ray Winstone urges people to back the Dementia Revolution for this special year to help ‘lead the charge towards a cure’.

Ray, who portrayed the effects of Alzheimer’s in the 2012 film Ashes, said:  “I’ve seen first-hand the devastating effect dementia has when I met people with dementia while I was preparing for a role as a father with Alzheimer’s disease. I know there are no treatments to slow, prevent or cure dementia and the main reason for this is because there is not enough funding into research. By signing up to the Dementia Revolution and being part of the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, everyone can do their bit to raise vital funds to beat dementia. With enough support, we can and will end dementia with research.”

Through the Dementia Revolution, the two charities are aiming to build a team of more than 2,000 runners in the marathon including those applying for charity places and those who secure their own places through the public ballot, which opens on Monday 30 April for just five days.

Sue Strachan, who attracted widespread support this month when she completed the marathon while living with dementia, has called on others to get behind the cause for this important year.

She said:  “I wasn’t a runner at all, but the doctor suggested I take up running to get fit and stay positive after my diagnosis of vascular dementia and here I am with a Virgin Money London Marathon finisher’s medal. I’ve been pounding the country lanes around my house for months surrounded by nothing but a few sheep, so I cannot put into words how it felt to be out there on the streets on marathon day with the noise of the crowds. The atmosphere was incredible and I felt so proud to be challenging stereotypes about dementia and raising vital funds for research. The Dementia Revolution is an amazing opportunity and I hope everyone will rise up and support it in whatever way they can.”

Jeremy Hughes, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society, said:   “Sadly today, one in three of us will have a close family member or friend who has dementia. For too long people with dementia have been overlooked and forgotten but this special year will help us to bring dementia out of the shadows. As Charity of the Year for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon we have a unique opportunity to inspire action now and raise vital funds for research. We hope that everyone will stand with us, join the Dementia Revolution and change the lives of people with dementia.”

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK said:  “The Virgin Money London Marathon is a globally iconic event that brings people together to be a force for good. This year, we’re proud to be joining forces with Alzheimer’s Society to create a groundswell of support for the researchers who are working tirelessly to tackle the condition and transform lives. The UK Dementia Research Institute is all about collaboration and teamwork to power breakthroughs and we’re excited to get recruiting our largest ever team of runners to raise millions to help them make progress faster.”

Jo Barnett, Executive Director of Virgin Money Giving, said:   “This year the Dementia Revolution really captured the hearts of colleagues at Virgin Money, as well as my own. Two years ago, my cousin’s husband, Neil, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease aged only 51. I had always thought that Alzheimer’s was an inevitability of old age. I have learnt through Neil that it isn’t – Alzheimer’s is a disease and it is devastating. I know that dementia has impacted the lives of many of my colleagues and I’m proud that Virgin Money is backing the Dementia Revolution. I am confident the campaign will inspire colleagues, runners and volunteers across the country to make a stand and raise those vital pounds for the UK Dementia Research Institute.”

To secure your place in the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon for the Dementia Revolution visit


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