Resident video blogger Virginia Bailey is embarking on stRIDE17 – a 450-mile cycle ride across England, Wales and the Isle of Man. Here, she explains her inspiration…

A healthy body makes for a healthy mind. It’s something I strongly believe in and it’s the impetus behind a charity cycle ride that I’m organising to raise awareness of dementia, a condition that affects me personally.

My Dad has vascular dementia, and I’ve talked about it a lot in a range of vlogs for Unforgettable (which you can watch here). Now I want to spread the word about dementia, the challenges it brings and how you can provide support to those affected with this cycle ride. After all, leading an active life and eating well can play an important role in looking after our brains, and can go a long way to preventing dementia. Combining exercise with awareness-raising makes sense.

For someone with dementia, memories from the past often come to the forefront of their minds. My sister and I wanted to combine the message of leading an active, healthy lifestyle with memories from our Dad’s life, by visiting places which hold special memories for him and our family. And that’s how we came up with the idea and the route for stRIDE17.

Over 8 days in August 2017, a team of brilliantly inspirational women will embark on a 450-mile cycle.

We’ll depart from Liverpool, where my Dad grew up and met our wonderful Mum and finish in Shrewsbury where my sister and I got to enjoy an amazing childhood, full of love and happy memories. In between, we will visit places that ooze nostalgia for our family; the Isle of Man, the Lake District and North Wales.

Just to make sure we can get as many people involved as possible, we have thrown in a couple of hikes for good measure.

Money raised will go to the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK. We have chosen these charities because of the amazing work that they do to not only try and find a cure for people like my Dad, but also for the invaluable support that they give to people like my Mum, my Dad’s awesome carer.

We have two clear and simple aims for stRIDE17:

1. Help families and carers to cope with the disease, through raising awareness of
dementia, sharing stories and opportunities for support.
2. Raise much needed funds to support specialist dementia care workers and research
into the disease.

We also really want to get as many people involved as possible by inviting them to come and join us for an hour, a day, or as many days as they like! We will share the route and people can pick the bits they want to do with the option to cycle or walk different sections of it. We will also be running two events along the way to raise awareness of the charities and these will take place in Liverpool at the Grand Depart and at the finish line in Shrewsbury. There will be a family fun run/walk and cycle around the parks to make sure everyone can do their bit to fight dementia.

You can find out more about stRIDE17 and watch videos on how we’re getting on with training by visiting our YouTube channel. Donate to the JustGiving page here.

The video below goes into more detail about the personal reasons for our challenge, both for me and some of the other riders, and provides a great starting point for raising money for stRIDE17. Enjoy!