Pensioner, 93, walking 100 laps to raise money for Alzheimer's charity that helped his late wife

Neil Norman takes on a big challenge in walking 100 laps in memory of his late wife. Credit: Media Wales

A 93-year-old man from Swansea is walking 100 laps around the estate where he lives to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society, in memory of his late wife.

Neil Norman's wife of more than 70 years, Anne, lived with Alzheimer's for four years before sadly passing away to Covid in 2020.

Neil described Alzheimer's disease as "cruel" as he watched his wife begin to lose her identity and approach dementia.

The walking challenge is particularly difficult for Neil. At 93 he suffers each day with an arthritic hip and knee, meaning he is in discomfort and pain each time he completes a lap, and sometimes needs to spend a few days following an effort recovering.

The pensioner set out on his challenge in April and is expecting it will take around six to eight weeks to complete.

Neil Norman and wife Anne Norman Credit: Media Wales

Neil's challenge first started as a light hearted joke on WhatsApp when seeking ideas to keep fit with his family.

Citing Captain Tom Moore as the inspiration for his own idea, with the help of his family, they set up a fundraising page to document his efforts and help raise money for the Alzheimer's Society.

After his second lap, Neil joked to the family he planned 98 more and his grandson encouraged him to start a small family fundraiser with a £100 target.

Neil Norman uses his trusted walker while completing his laps. Credit: Media Wales

But that quickly grew into a larger goal and is still increasing, with the family hoping he can reach £1,000 by the time he gets to his 100th lap.

Neil said: "Peter, my son, set up a JustGiving page for me and there was only one clear charity I wanted to raise money for.

"My wife had Alzheimer's for four years and the Alzheimer's Society were absolutely brilliant. When we were in lockdown they continually rang us and checked on us, even after Anne passed - they still kept in touch.

"If you've ever watched anyone with Alzheimer's change you know it's hard, it is just so cruel".

Neil and Anne first met in 1949, when he was 20 and she was 18. Credit: Media Wales

Originally from Liverpool, Neil first met Anne back in 1949 at the age of 20, when Anne was 18.

The pair were both at a folk dancing event with their friends and Neil remembered how Anne gave him "the biggest smile" and it "melted [his] heart".The couple married in 1954 and lived in various places in England before moving to Swansea. They spent more than 70 years together and have three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Despite the ongoing challenges with heatwaves, more typical Welsh weather and discomfort when walking - Neil said he had "never been so determined" to complete is goal in memory of his wife.He added: "If you know of anyone who has dementia, I have friends and family with it and it is the most cruel thing I have ever seen.

"The way it is for the loved ones, to see somebody change like that - it is just difficult. Anything I can do to give money to help support it, I just knew I had to.

"When you first start out with the idea of 100 laps, it is miles in the sky - it is a long way, It is not getting any easier".

Neil reflecting on the life he had with his wife Anne Credit: Media Wales

Reflecting on his goal, Neil said Anne was "quite a character". So much so, the 93-year-old recalled that "for her 88th birthday she chose a bodyboard as her present and would regularly go swimming down Langland with it".Neil has no plans on slowing down and intends to continue walking even after his goal, but when quizzed on whether 200 laps was next he laughed and made no promises.Neil continued: "From my hair to my chin, I am 18 years old - it is below there I have problems. My head doesn't know how old my body is but I will still keep walking.

"I don't want to be complacent - there is more to life than that".