Craig is a Regional Discipline Manager at The FA. Following his dad Eric’s vascular dementia diagnosis, Craig set himself a challenge to complete 5km every day for a year to raise money for dementia support.
Dad was always active – he loved his walking and running, and he kept busy with his gardening too.
He used to take me to Derby County games when I was a kid, so I could get to the football often, despite his personal affinity for Nottingham Forest. All these years later and I’m working in football myself.
Now I'm also doing my own running to raise money for the crucial work Alzheimer’s Society do to support so many families in the same position as my own.
Dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia in May 2018 and passed away on 28 June 2023. It’s such a terrible illness and it deprived him of the retirement that he had planned for.
Dementia diagnosis journey
When dad went for the assessment at the doctors, I was absolutely gobsmacked to watch him sit there and not be able to complete some of the tasks like drawing a clockface or recognising pictures of animals.
It was the starkest experience of the whole dementia diagnosis journey.
He remained active after his diagnosis, but eventually he had to stop when his balance became affected and in July 2019 he had a fall at home that put him in hospital.
The progression of the illness was quite aggressive from that point, with my mum Linda becoming a full-time carer alongside the additional help we had coming daily.
His days were spent being hoisted from his bed to a chair and back and his communication deteriorated in the last few years.
A new challenge in dad's memory
Last year, I decided to do something completely unlike anything I’d ever done before.
I set myself a challenge to complete 5km a day for a year to raise money for Alzheimer's Society.
Before my wife and I had our kids I had a very active lifestyle, but slowed down a lot in recent years and have had my own fight with depression.
With my dad’s diagnosis, my own personal situation, and seeing the importance of an active lifestyle through The FA’s partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, everything clicked into place.
The idea came from a former colleague who had done something similar, and I thought it was a great way to help myself get active and raise some money for a cause that had become so important to my family.
I gave the challenge the strapline #WhosEric, a reference both to a famous line from Only Fools and Horses (a family favourite growing up) and a moment when dad responded to mum shouting his name with the reply, “Who’s Eric?”.
Approaching the finish line
I’m still going strong past day 300 and ran from the crematorium to the pub that hosted his wake in honour of his memory. I also recently hit the initial target of £5,000.
I would have loved dad to have been able to be here to see me reach the end of the challenge.
The end is in sight with day 365 on 14 October, but the challenge has shown me how important it is to stay active and I definitely plan to keep doing that.
Support Craig's challenge
Donate to support Craig as he completes 5k a day to raise money for Alzheimer's Society.