Hampton woman takes on 50 challenges to raise funds for research into dementia

When Hampton resident Shelle Luscombe turned 50 in July 2021, she wanted to do something memorable to mark her milestone birthday. At first glance, this may have looked like a midlife crisis, however, instead of buying a sports car or booking in for a facelift, Shelle set about completing 50 challenges to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

She set up a JustGiving page, sent the link to friends and family and encouraged them to set her a challenge in exchange for a donation. The first few challenges were pretty straightforward – try a laughter yoga class, sign up to a salsa dance class, and complete a 24-hour fast – then they started to get a little more tricky – ask someone out on a date, give up smoking, do 50 sit-ups a day for a week, and skydive from 15,000 feet!

The money began rolling in and Shelle quickly upped her target from £500 to £5,000. 

Personal motivation

Underlying all this craziness was a very personal motivation. Shelle’s dad, Ian, passed away in December 2017 with Parkinson’s and dementia and, at the time of her 50th birthday, her mum, Sue, was living in a nursing home with advanced vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia is now the number one cause of death in the UK, and one in three people born today will develop dementia in their lifetime. Alzheimer’s Research UK is on a mission to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025, so this was the perfect charity partner for Shelle’s initiative.

“My mum began showing signs of dementia in her mid-60s and it scares me that I might follow in her footsteps as there’s a strong presence of dementia on both sides of my family”, Shelle explains. 

“If the same thing happens to me then I have just fifteen years or so to make the most of being fit and well. Equally, I have an opportunity to do something positive to help raise awareness and vital funds towards finding a cure. Or, better still, learn enough about what causes dementia so that we can prevent it in the first place.

“I’ve watched this dreadful illness rob both my parents of their personalities, their dignity, and their independence, and I want a better outcome for future generations.”

50 challenges in 500 days

Originally, Shelle intended to complete all 50 challenges before her 51st birthday, but her mum sadly passed away at the end of February 2022 and she lost a few months of momentum. So, a friend suggested a revised deadline of 500 days from her big birthday. Shelle summed it up, nicely: “50 challenges in 500 days from my 50th birthday has a nice ring to it!”

At the time of writing, Shelle has completed 34 challenges, appeared on Channel Four’s Steph’s Packed Lunch and raised nearly £6,000. Having smashed her target, she now has her sights on raising £10,000. The remaining 16 challenges have all been set and she’s working her way through them. Readers can follow her progress – or even join in with challenges – via her website blog at www.shelleluscombe.co.uk/50-at-50 

Anyone wishing to donate, can do so via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/shelleluscombeofficial