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Nan inspires Nicola to great heights

19 April 2017


When Nicola Hook and her two younger sisters were growing up, their Nan Peggy Skinner was like a mum to them.

They would go to her house after school and, if one of them was ever sick, she would scoop them up, wrap them in a blanket and ply them with hot drinks and nourishing soups.

Nicola has loads of happy memories of carefree beach days and fish and chip suppers after Peggy and her husband moved to the coast at Walton-on-the-Naze.

Now, sadly, the roles are reversing and it is lifelong carer Peggy who is in need of being looked after. She has been diagnosed with vascular dementia and Nicola fears the time will come when she needs to go into residential care.

The 28-year-old City insurance worker from Benfleet is determined to give something back for all the times her Nan was there for her. She has signed up to Southend University Hospital Super Hero Tackle the Tower abseil which is being held on Saturday, May 13 and all the money she raises will go to the hospital's £100,000 Dementia Appeal.

Nicola said: "My Nan and I are really, really close and I speak to her every day on my way to work. She is getting very forgetful and gets family members confused - but not every single day. Sometimes she is like her old self."

A barmaid, cleaner and child minder in her younger life, 76-year-old Peggy also made beautiful wedding and occasion cakes for family and friends. Sadly, arthritis in her hands and her developing dementia has put a stop to them - she often forgets recipes and needs assistance with each step.

Nicola said: "Although she has not yet reached the stage where she needs to be in care, it is ramping up and we will all be affected as a family. It is so tough watching your idol deteriorate into a person you hardly recognise, knowing there is no cure."

This will be Nicola's first abseil. She said: "I am excited about it. I am not scared of heights and want to do as much as I can to raise money for dementia sufferers."

There are still spaces left to take part in the hospital's Tackle the Tower Abseil, which is being generously sponsored by PACE Property Lettings and Management Ltd. Entrants can raise money for their preferred ward, department or hospital appeal and are required to bring in at least £100 in sponsorship, with a £40 entry fee.

To find out more, call 01702 385337 or email fundraising@southend.nhs.uk

Picture: Nicola with her grandparents Peggy and Ron Skinner