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South Shields pensioner set to join family on memory walk despite living hundreds of miles away

Mavis Culling.
Mavis Culling.

A pensioner from South Shields living with dementia will join members of her family on a charity walk thanks to the power of technology.

Relatives of Mavis Culling will unite under the banner of ‘Team Mavis’ at this year’s South Shields Memory Walk to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society.

Mavis Culling with members of her family.

Mavis Culling with members of her family.

Family members aged 10 to 80 will step out together at the event in Bents Park on Saturday, October 6.

And Mavis, 84, will be able to join them via Facetime – walking around a garden in Surrey, where she now lives, with daughter Dorileen and son-in-law Jim.

Mavis’ niece, South Shields-born Amanda Wallace, 54, kick-started the get-together after seeing a TV advert for Memory Walk.

She said: “I live near Dunfermline now with my husband Graeme but when we saw that there was a walk in South Shields we decided there and then we were going to do it as a tribute to Aunty Mavis, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2010.

“We posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to join us and the response was amazing.

“Before we knew it there were 21 family members and a family friend taking part.

“And there will be 25 in total because Dorileen and Jim will walk around their garden with Mavis whilst Facetiming us.

“We all have strong connections to South Shields and we all look up to Mavis – she is an inspiration to us all and I have always regarded her as my second mam.

“She was a fun-loving but hard-working woman in her younger days who raised four children and held down secretarial jobs for Shell in Jarrow, among others.

“And she raised a lot of money for Marie Curie over the years at numerous events.

“She even worked at the charity’s shop in South Shields for 10 years, only stopping shortly after she was diagnosed with dementia.”

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, more than 2,000 of them in South Tyneside.

Amanda, who works as a PA at Sky, near Edinburgh, said: “It’s going to be what I would describe as a happy-sad occasion – happy because it will be lovely getting so many of us together for such a worthwhile cause but sad because of how dementia has affected Aunty Mavis.”

Rebecca Scott, senior mass participation events officer for Memory Walk, said: “It will be wonderful to see so many members of the same coming together to pay tribute to someone who is clearly a very special person and a big influence on all their lives.”

The main 7km walk sets off from Bents Park at 11am.

There will also be a shorter route suitable for pushchairs and wheelchair users, covering 1.5km.

And a new 22km walk has also been introduced this year, which sets off at 9am.

For details about all of Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walks visit memorywalk.org.uk

Donations can be made to TeamMavis by texting MAVI58 to 70070 followed by the amount.