A FATHER is pushing his endurance to the limit on a four day challenge to raise money for pioneering research into dementia, after his own dad lived with the condition undiagnosed for more than a decade.

James Widdowson, who is head of competitor intelligence at Dyson in Malmesbury, will compete in a six kilometre time trial, a 12 kilometre uphill race, a half marathon and a 10 kilometre run in memory of his father John.

The 43-year-old believes his dad was living with dementia for more than a decade before finally receiving a diagnosis of vascular dementia.

John died aged 79 in 2016 and in the last 10-15 years of his life, James saw a complete change in his personality, which put a huge strain on their family.

“My dad used to be really social, he was the life and soul of his friendship group and quite the party man in his day, but he started to withdraw from the things he loved.

"He stopped playing golf and he didn’t enjoy time with his grandchildren or friends as much as he might have done.

“His symptoms started long before he was diagnosed. My parents tried to keep it between themselves, we thought he was depressed.

“My father did have memory tests with a GP, but he passed them easily as his dementia impacted his behaviour.

"This put a huge strain on my family, because we knew there was something seriously wrong, but we didn’t know what it was until it was too late.

"Research into earlier diagnosis is vital as it could directly benefit every one of us, just as it may have benefitted my father.”

John was a huge Leicester City fan, the pair went to their first game in 1982, but James’s dad sadly died just a day before the Foxes miraculously won the Premier League in 2016.

However James credits the club’s against-the-odds success as one of the reasons his father battled the disease for so long.

“Towards the end of my father’s life, he couldn’t speak and the only way he would communicate was through his eyes”, said James.

“We’d try to get him to respond, I’d show him videos of his granddaughters for example, but one thing that would always get his attention was news about Leicester City.

“Every time I visited him, I always told him how they were doing, and I could tell he wanted to know.

“The club provided us our best father-son trips out and the highs and the lows of the football team were always a topic of conversation. He died the day before they won the league, I think that’s something he tried to hold on for.”

Speaking about his challenge, experienced runner James, who is a member of Cirencester Athletics Club and has run five London marathons, said: “I knew I wanted to do this event for charity one day and when my father passed away from dementia last year, it became even more important.

“I’m really excited, but nervous at the same time.

“I’m a keen runner, but this is a race that high-profile athletes take part in, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge.

“What’s going to be hard is pushing myself to go each morning, when my legs feel like jelly, and the climate being what we can expect in August in the UK.

“If I could average around five minutes per km for the whole thing then I would be delighted.”

James will be joined by two friends from Cirencester Athletics Club, Nick Wall and Ionel Iancu and has set himself a target of raising £5,000, which will be added to the £130,000 total that has so far been raised by staff at Dyson for their charity partner Alzheimer’s Research UK.

To donate to James’ fundraiser, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/james-widdowson