‘Inspirational’ Ann, 99, sets out to complete marathon walking challenge

Posted: Wednesday 05 April 2023
Ann in Challenge t-shirt looking victorious

An inspirational 99-year-old is celebrating her milestone year by walking the equivalent distance of a marathon around her local running track in a bid to help beat macular disease.

Ann, who was diagnosed with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) 30 years ago, has decided to take on the feat in support of the Macular Society as well as Guide Dogs, aiming to raise as much money as possible for the two causes.

The grandmother, who turns 100 later this year and lives in a care home in Middlesex, will be clocking up the 26.2 mile distance around her local running track.

The idea is for Ann to go on as many daily walks as she can, completing a total of 105 laps of the track, while the manager of the care home, Paul, tracks her progress. “There’s so many inspiring people out there doing things, I thought I could do my walk around the park and I’m lucky that I have lots of friends to spur me on,” said Ann.

“I want to show that even though someone is losing their sight they are still able to do something to help others going through it.”

Ann has always enjoyed keeping active and is a big advocate for not letting sight loss stop you from doing what you want to do.

She said: “I’ve never done anything special, just walking, but I’ve always said to people, ‘whatever you do, you can’t sit in an armchair all day’. It’s been such a benefit to me that whether rain or shine I have always got up and moved, even if it’s just been around the block one day.

“My main love was reading so that was my biggest setback. I do use talking books which are a great help but apart from that I cope fairly well with my sight loss. I was warned I wouldn’t be able to do everything and I miss knitting. Although I attempt it, I find now I have more holes than stitches in the needles! It’s one of those I just need to try harder each time. I loved crosswords, puzzles and that sort of entertainment.

“I used to love looking through my old photo albums and wondering where the people were, I can’t see any of those now.

“Yes, it’s frustrating in some ways but I must admit when I’m sitting on my own I will probably get very cross with myself or mutter away when nobody is around me, that gets it out of my system a bit but on the whole I’ve made the most of what I have as I’ve gone along.

“I also have a wonderful daughter who keeps me going and there are great people around me who keep me going too, they are such an inspiration.”

Ann’s daughter Margaret is extremely proud of what her mum has achieved since dry AMD developed in the last three decades and she had no hesitations about Ann’s latest walking challenge.

Margaret, 67, said: “She’s absolutely amazing, such an inspirational, positive person. I remember the day mum was diagnosed with macular disease and she looked at the consultant and said ‘oh dear, that’s a pity but I’ve been able to see all these years. Some people never see, so haven’t I been lucky.’ Those words have never left me.

“I honestly couldn’t be prouder of her and when she said she wanted to do this, I said ‘go for it, mum’. I support her 100% and I have to say Paul at the home has been amazing with her and I can’t thank them enough for their phenomenal support.

“I can only hope there will be a cure in the future and that people won’t have to go through what mum and so many others have gone through. From what I am reading there are great strides being made so I’m very hopeful and fingers crossed mum will raise as much as possible to help.”

Donations to support Ann can be made online via her JustGiving page.

Have you been inspired to fundraise for the Macular Society? From taking part in a major sporting event to organising your own event, you can help Beat Macular Disease. Our community fundraising team is here to support you all the way - email community@macularsociety.org or phone 01264 560 222.