A CURRY Mallett woman in taking on the London Marathon this weekend in memory of her father who died from a rare form of early onset dementia in November.

Hannah Wolverson, age 36, will be taking on the challenge with her best friend Alex Vipurs to raise money for The National Brain Appeal’s Rare Dementia Support fund.

When John Wolverson was in his late 50s, Hannah and her two brothers, Dale, 38, and Ross, 34, sensed something was not right.

They are a very close family, having lost their mother to cancer when Hannah was just 13 years old. Hannah said: “Our dad brought us up single-handedly after mum died. We became a really close little team of four and we loved our dad more than anything.”

However, getting a diagnosis was a long and complicated process. Hannah, who works as a prison nurse and a dog walker, said: “Dad looked otherwise fit and well.

"He was adamant that there was nothing wrong with him and did a good job of convincing medical staff that he was fine. However, we knew he needed help and that something was wrong.”

John, who was a dancing enthusiast and used to work as a dance host on cruise ships, was insistent he was well enough to go and work on a cruise. Reluctantly, and with reassurance from the cruise company that medical staff would be on hand if needed, they let him go. Things didn’t work out, however, and John needed to be repatriated home.

John was diagnosed as having Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), also known as ‘Pick’s disease’. It is extremely rare, thought to affect around 16,000 people in the UK, where there is a loss of cells mainly in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The main symptoms are a progressive change in personality or behaviour and a progressive deterioration in language abilities. It usually starts in the 40s, 50s or 60s.

While there was relief that Hannah and her brothers finally knew what was happening to their dad, the diagnosis was devastating for them. She said: “He was so young, just 57. It was such a blow to us, having already gone through such heartbreak losing our mum so young.”

Ten years later, at the age of 67, John died. Hannah said: “We cared for dad for as long as we could until he needed to go into a home. When he passed away a huge hole was left in our lives.”

By coincidence, on the same day as her father died Hannah found out she had a place to run the London Marathon for The National Brain Appeal. She said: “It was obviously meant to be. I’m so pleased that my best friend Alex is running with me.

"We have run several half marathons together but we’ve never taken on a challenge as epic as the London Marathon. We aren't atheetes. In fact the idea of pounding 26.2 miles around London is actually quite terrifying."

To support Hannah and Alex’s London Marathon challenge go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/TeamMoey