THE daughter of Welsh rugby legend Dai Hayward will tackle this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon in his memory to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Sian Hayward, from Usk, hopes to raise at least £1,800 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity by completing the 26.2-mile course on April 13. Mr Hayward, who won six caps for Wales, was 69 when he lost his battle with Alzheimer’s in 2003.
Ms Hayward, 53, who works at Monmouthshire County Council, said: “I’m supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK because they’re our best bet of finding a cure.
“As a council worker, I’m acutely aware of the growing dementia epidemic and it’s a big elephant in the room.
“If we can find a way of delaying the onset of the disease, or find a cure, it would be a huge relief to millions of people, including myself.”
Mr Hayward was known as one of the most combative flankers during the late 1950s to early 1960s. He played senior rugby for Crumlin and Newbridge and later joined Cardiff where he spent almost 40 years as a player.
She said: “My father was a vibrant, intelligent man and rugby was his life. It all ended when Alzheimer’s stole him from us at a very young age — he was 60 when it started.
“I watched his steady, heartbreaking decline until he had a stroke and died. It sounds awful, but I was relieved as he was spared the worst that Alzheimer’s can bring.”
Wales and Lions star George North has already contributed to the cause.
Jodie Vaughan, community fundraising manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Every £20 Sian raises is enough to pay for another hour of pioneering research, bringing us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
“There are thousands of people in the UK living with dementia today, including almost 37,000 people in Wales, with over 1,000 of those living in Monmouthshire.
“Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia, pose a great threat to public health now and in the future.”
To donate to Sian’s cause, visit: www.justgiving.com/sian-hayward3.