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All year, employees will be raising funds alongside our incredible Virgin Money London Marathon runners to power pioneering research at the UK Dementia Research Institute. Their support for the Dementia Revolution has cranked up a gear after a team of 11 took on a mammoth cycle challenge to raise money for research. Below, Chris Higham, who is Head of Strategy and Change at Virgin Money, explains why he was so determined to join the Dementia Revolution.

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Chris Higham with his two daughters and grandad

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Each year a team of us from Virgin Money embark on a gruelling cycle challenge for our new Charity Partner, with the aim of pushing ourselves further every time. When we planned our ambitious 130-mile ride from Whitehaven on the west coast to Tynemouth on the east coast for the Dementia Revolution, I knew this one would mean much more to me on a personal level than the others.

That’s because I’ve seen the destruction dementia causes. It’s something that’s impacted nearly all my older relatives. Three of my grandparents have lived with dementia and one of my wife’s grandparents too.

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Virgin Money Cycle Challenge

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What makes it so hard is that your loved one seems physically fit, but they are no longer the person you knew, and it affects people so differently. I remember the last time I saw my nan before she died, she couldn’t even remember my name.

After completing this year’s challenge, I found out that my remaining grandparent may soon have to be moved into residential care because of the severity of his dementia. This made the ride even more important to me and well worth the effort, as we must do everything we can to find a cure.

And I think it’s fair to say that we did our bit for the Dementia Revolution with this cycle ride, it was definitely the hardest one to date! We covered 130 miles over two days, including a climb of 10,000ft. There were lots of ups and downs, we really had to keep each other going, particularly to get people through the climbs and even get the energy for the second day. But it was an amazing experience, we got to see some incredible views and I was ecstatic when we got to the end.

What kept us going was the support we received from our friends, family and colleagues. As we were trying to fight through the pain, we’d be receiving messages to let us know people had been sponsoring us and we got lots of support on social media too. It really highlighted how important the Dementia Revolution is to so many people and it’s not surprising.  

Dementia is something we seem to be seeing every day and that’s why we must find a cure. It’s not something that will just impact me and my children, but generations to come, unless we discover the treatments we desperately need. That’s why I’m so pleased that Virgin Money is supporting the Dementia Revolution this year.

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Virgin Money bankers on their bikes

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So far, we’ve raised over £1,450 for this one-year campaign, but we’d love to get to £2,000 and help fund even more groundbreaking research.

If you want to join the Dementia Revolution yourself, you can find out more about how you can support us through the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.