A large family spread across Northern Ireland, England and Australia is raising thousands of pounds for Alzheimer’s Research UK in honour of grandmother-of-18 Lilian McAuley.
At 83, Lilian is currently living with vascular dementia in a care home in Portstewart, County Londonderry.
The grandmother-of-12 and great-grandmother-of-six was the much-loved matriarch of the family, and now many of her relatives are banding together to fundraise in a variety of different ways in her honour.
She was diagnosed in January 2015 and moved into Madelayne Court Care Home a year later, which was distressing for the family, especially Lilian’s husband of 60 years, Bertie McAuley, 84.
Her 29-year-old granddaughter Cathy Temple, who is helping to coordinate the fundraising from her home in Coleraine, County Londonderry, said: “When Granny was younger she worked in her brother’s bakery, so she’s always been a talented baker. She then had kids and dedicated her life to raising them. She was an active member of her parish choir and also a fantastic golfer, helping out my grandad who was president and captain of their local golf club.
“Granny had a mini-stroke, and we started to notice personality differences in her after she recovered. She was always a mild and gentle person but she would suddenly say things which were sharp and out of character and she started to lose her inhibitions.
“My grandfather cared for her at home but he struggled to cope. She started to require 24-hour care and though the family helped out it became impossible.
“She is still able to go out occasionally and enjoy a cup of tea at my aunt’s house as she lives nearby, and luckily she has kept her sense of humour, but I can’t tell how much she recognises us anymore.
“This awful disease not only robbed her of her memories, created confusion and anxiety but perhaps most heartbreakingly it sabotaged her personality.
“We are raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK because we want to find a way to fight this disease. We’re a very close family and we’re all really motivated. This really is a testament to the kind of lady my granny is. She was incredibly charitable and kind so we are just following the example she set us.”
Cathy’s mum Elaine, Lilian’s daughter, is doing a sponsored weight loss, with family and friends donating £1 for 1lb, which will run from Lilian’s birthday on 26 July to Elaine’s birthday on 26 December.
Grandson Andrew Rankin, who lives in Australia, is doing a sponsored alcohol-free August and has already raised $1,500. Andrew and his brother Allan are also doing a sponsored walk near Perth in Australia.
Lilian’s son Trevor and his family who live in Gosport, Hampshire, are also helping out with car boot sales and sponsored walks.
Lilian’s son David McAuley and Cathy’s husband Barry are completing Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new fundraising campaign, Running Down Dementia, which challenges participants to run 100km while raising £100. They have taken part in a number of sponsored runs and parkruns.
Even the youngest members of the family, including Cathy’s nine-month-old daughter Kate, are helping out by wearing Alzheimer’s Research UK t-shirts at car boot sale and bag packing fundraisers.
The family has already raised over £2,000 and hopes to raise £7,500 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, as well as £2,500 for Lilian’s care home.
Hannah Reynolds, Sporting and Community Events Officer for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It’s clear to see from the huge amounts of support from friends and family across the pond that Lilian was a much-loved mum and grandmother.
“Lilian is not alone, there are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia. Only research can defeat dementia, and Alzheimer’s Research UK is funding the most promising research to find preventions and treatments for the condition. We couldn’t do it without our incredible fundraisers like the McAuley family.”