Daugh­ter’s trek to hon­our dad

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

Trekking across a desert and climb­ing a moun­tain is how Paula Bar­nett is plan­ning on pay­ing trib­ute to her fa­ther.

Mrs Bar­nett is tak­ing part in the five-day Alzheimers So­ci­ety Desert Trek, which cov­ers 72km from Mt Si­nai in Egypt to the Red Sea.

She’ll be rais­ing money for the so­ci­ety, to help peo­ple like her 92-year-old fa­ther John Meares, who has the dis­ease in its ad­vanced form.

Mrs Bar­nett dis­cov­ered the Novem­ber walk when she was at a con­cert in Lon­don and it was ad­ver­tised on the con­cert pro­gramme.

“It caught me be­cause I’ve al­ways wanted to go to the holy lands. It re­ally struck a chord. I love tramp­ing and Pa has alzheimers.”

Mr Meares, who now lives at the Avon­dale Lodge, served in World War Two and was mainly based in Egypt’s cap­i­tal Cairo so the area cov­ered by the walk has sig­nif­i­cance.

“I think many peo­ple my age have par­ents who served in the war and it was hard on the men. It was very dif­fi­cult when they came back, try­ing to re­sume what you might call a nor­mal life.”

Her fa­ther told her that he stopped mak­ing friends dur­ing the war, “be­cause your friends died”.

It was years be­fore he would talk about the war but he be­came in­ter­ested in mil­i­tary his­tory in later life.

“It was a way to make sense of what he had been a part of.”

She says Mr Meares “came into his own” when he had grand­chil­dren and has been an ex­em­plary grand­fa­ther.

He was di­ag­nosed with alzheimers about three years ago.

Do­ing the walk, which she calls her Jour­ney for John, feels like a way of hon­our­ing him, she says.

Mrs Bar­nett will travel to Eng­land be­fore the event to stay with her daugh­ter, who will do the trek with her.

Hav­ing re­cently turned 60, her chil­dren were plan­ning to buy her a trip as a present but in­stead she asked them to help or­gan­ise fundrais­ing for the trek.

While the trek will raise money for the UK branch of the Alzheimers So­ci­ety it will help re­search world­wide.

Mrs Bar­nett has net­works of friends and fam­ily who will help her fundraise and make do­na­tions to­wards the trip.

UK Alzheimers So­ci­ety fundrais­ing and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Jo Swin­hoe says the so­ci­ety is de­lighted at the lengths Mrs Bar­nett is go­ing to sup­port it and to hon­our her fa­ther.

“As a char­ity, we rely on the gen­eros­ity of in­di­vid­u­als like Paula to help us sup­port peo­ple to­day and find a cure for to­mor­row.

“One in three peo­ple over 65 will die with de­men­tia. It is more than just mem­ory loss; it robs peo­ple of their lives and has a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on fam­i­lies and loved ones.”

To make a do­na­tion, go to www.just giv­ing.com/paula­bar­nett or money can be put into a BNZ bank ac­count, Paula Bar­nett Alzheimers So­ci­ety Fundrais­ing Ac­count, num­ber 020476-0022627-097.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Fam­ily con­nec­tion: Paula Bar­nett is do­ing a 72km desert trek to hon­our her fa­ther John Meares who has alzheimers.

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