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Human hamster’s dementia fundraiser is wheel-y inspired

17 May 2016


You could say Dean Ovel, 40, from Westcliff-on-Sea has been running round in circles of late, because, well he has. To be specific he’s been in training for running 24 hours in an 8ft tall hamster wheel that he designed and built himself.

Dean is running in the confines of his own wooden wheel, to help raise money for the newly launched £100,000 dementia appeal at his local hospital in Southend.

Dementia is fast becoming a condition that touches the lives of us all, and it's an appeal close to Dean's heart as both his Nans had dementia. All the more fitting then that his high-profile challenge begins on the last day of national dementia awareness week on Saturday 21 May.

This isn't the first time that committed runner Dean has put his best foot forward in the name of charity. In 2014 he ran ten marathons in just eight days. This time though he'll be stationary, whilst rotating in his own hamster wheel. The wheel will be situated at the top end of Southend High Street for his challenge from 12 noon on Saturday 21 May until 12 noon on Sunday 22 May.

Although Dean will be running solo in the wheel he'll be supported and entertained by a series of bands supporting him throughout the day.

Dean said: "It should be a really great atmosphere as we'll have everything from bands and choirs to the handsome hamster competition and for those feeling a little more energetic they can cycle for a mile next to me on some spin cycles. All of that positive energy and support will just be a massive boost and local businesses have been incredibly generous and donated some fantastic prizes."

The hope is now that it will prove to be a real hamster wheel of fortune for the newly launched dementia appeal which aims to raise £100,000 to provide two therapeutic and interactive day rooms at the hospital, as well as specialist hearing aids, bed and chair sensors, mobile sensory units and reminiscence items such as memory boxes.

There are almost one million people living in the UK with dementia and it is estimated that over 25% of patients in hospital have the condition, often struggling with unfamiliar environments which can lead to a decline in their mental well-being.

Lucy Lock, fundraising officer at Southend Hospital, said: "Dean will help get us off to a flying start and his zany antics will hopefully raise both a few eyebrows and awareness to those that see him on his 24-hour run, hopefully raising pounds for the appeal. I can't think of a more inspiring end to Dementia Awareness Week."

Dean concluded: "It's been quite the ride already and people have just been so supportive and behind what started as an outlandish idea and then a working 1:15 scale Lego model. I now can't wait to get in my wheel, get focussed and get running and I now that I can do it as I'll have the support of friends, family and the great Essex public each step of the way."

Aiming to keep on running and rotating in the wheel as long as he can, Dean will of course be taking short comfort breaks but aims to do his eating and drinking in his wheel.

You can support Dean's 24 hour challenge by supporting him on the day and sponsor him here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/human-hamster