A FOREST pensioner is limbering up to hike Snowdon for the first time on his 67th birthday to raise £1,000 for families affected by dementia.

Alan Barnard will be joined by his son Corey for the sponsored hike in North Wales in April in a bid to raise money for Dementia UK, which provides specialist support for families impacted by the disease.

He decided to raise funds for the charity as his 87 year-old mother Betty has suffered with dementia for the last seven years.

Betty, a “proud Forester” who has lived in the area all her life, was diagnosed shortly after her 80th birthday, and now lives with the help of carers.

Alan says that sadly, she has taken a turn for the worse recently.

He explained: “At first the decline was very gradual, but in the last six-12 months it has got really bad, to the point that she cannot recall things we spoke about more than 5-10 minutes before, and she has no idea about what day, time or month it is.

“The illness definitely puts a strain on family life.

“We are not sure how long we will have with mum so it is about making memories now before she - God forbid - does not even recognise her own family.”

Alan made the decision to raise money for Dementia UK so that their nurses can continue to provide “life-changing” care for families like his.

He describes proposing the idea of the challenge to his son as “a mad moment”, and he has been taking on several walks in the Wye Valley to prepare for the big hike.

He has set up a JustGiving page where people can donate, which has so far helped him raise more than £650.

He commented: “I have been amazed at how generous people have been and the support I am getting.”

To donate to Alan’s cause and for updates go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alan-barnard3.