HELENSBURGH and Lomond was the latest leg on a Welsh woman’s remarkable walk around Britain’s coastline this week.

Karen Penny, from the Gower peninsula, near Swansea, set off from home in January to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Research UK charity after losing both her parents-in-law to the disease.

The 54-year-old has already clocked up 5,000 miles and is almost halfway towards her £100,000 goal as she aims to become the first woman to circumnavigate the British and Irish coastline on a continuous trek around 20 of the country’s largest islands.

The adventure of a lifetime has added meaning for Karen after the passing of her husband Mark’s mother Alma, to vascular dementia, and his father Kingsley.

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Speaking to the Advertiser after reaching the Erskine Bridge, before checking in to the Dementia Resource Centre in West Princes Street on Wednesday, Karen said: “Alzheimer’s has had a massive impact on our family and it was a very sad loss losing both Alma and Kingsley.

“I am very passionate about dementia and it needs so much more awareness.

"One in two of us know somebody with it. It is out of control now and we desperately need funding to find a cure. I really want to make a difference.

“There is still a little bit of a stigma, people think it’s just old people forgetting words, but it’s much more than that, it’s a disease of the brain that is capable of being cured.

“Right now there is no cure for it and there is no recovery from it.

“Kingsley spoke 11 languages fluently. He was a professor, but he deteriorated to such an extent where he couldn’t even recognise his own son.

“This walk is a very humbling experience. I get up every day and think I am very privileged to be doing this.”

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Karen’s husband and 26-year-old son will join her for Christmas in Scotland as she continues to see the sights and raise cash for vital research.

And she says the journey has been made even more worthwhile thanks to the friendly faces she has come across in each new place.

“The best thing about the walk is the way people react to what I am doing,” she said.

“People are kind and whole communities are getting together to help.

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“People have taken me in from all different backgrounds; one night you’ll be staying with a family of eight and it’s bedlam, then the next night you could be with an older couple.

“I’ve been visiting schools, care homes and centres, and they really appreciate that because it is the carers that make all the difference.”

As this article was published, Karen's efforts had raised £45,904.

To follow Karen’s journey search for the Facebook group Karen Penny The Penny Rolls On Walking Britain and Ireland, or to donate, visit justgiving.com/thepennyrollson.

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