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23 April 2018

Eleven-year-old heroine tackles the Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for Alzheimer’s research

The British are nothing if not a nation of determined souls when it comes to fundraising for charities, and here at Coate Water Care we have witnessed first-hand how much time and effort people sacrifice to raise money for the fight against dementia. But every now and again, a charity hero comes along who really does inspire jaw-dropping inspiration.

Such is the case of Wakefield schoolgirl, Thea Speight, aged 11, who along with her father Damien took on the legendary Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The Wakefield Girls High School Junior School pupil was inspired to take on the challenge, which covers 24 miles and 5,200ft of ascent, for the UK’s leading dementia research charity after her grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year.

Her very proud dad said: “When we told Thea her grandad has Alzheimer’s she struggled to accept that there isn’t something to fix him. Grandad can’t just go to a doctor, get a pill and get better. She wanted to do something to help, so we suggested the best thing she could do is to raise money for research that will find a cure so other people won’t go through the same thing.”

“We were very open with the kids about their grandad’s Alzheimer’s. We’ve explained to them that we just have to love grandad for being grandad. They don’t mind having the same conversation with him five times and are happy to just sit and laugh with him.”

Thea even wrote a poem for her fundraising page to inspire people to donate. It reads:

“One day Grandads won’t need to be sad
Forgetting the fun times that we had
With this money that we are raising
Doctors will find things truly amazing
Then on one historic day
Grandads’ memories will be here to stay”

Thea enjoys climbing at the Leeds Wall and with the sport included for the first time in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, she has her eye on winning a gold medal. Damien said: “Thea’s dream is to become a climber and she wants to win an Olympic gold medal. She likes wall climbing and is pretty good at it.”

“She had never done anything as tough as the Three Peaks Challenge before. She knew how far it is, but she wanted to set herself a really tough challenge. For training we headed up to Edinburgh and climbed Arthur’s Seat to see what she was like on a steep hill using walking poles. She had no problems and just shot up the hill!”

Thea has so far raised around £1,628, smashing her £1,000 target. To donate to her fundraising campaign go to

Claire Priestwood, Alzheimer’s Research UK Regional Fundraising Officer for the North East, said: “We are in awe of Thea for taking on this challenge. She will make her grandad very proud. The vital funds raised by her will power world-class dementia research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

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