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