From anger at losing mum during Covid pandemic to climbing Kilimanjaro

Sue Hughes (right) will climb Mount Kilimanjaro after losing her mum Doreen McHenry (left) to dementia during the pandemic

Sue Hughes (right) will climb Mount Kilimanjaro this summer after losing her mum Doreen McHenry (left) to dementia during the pandemic - Credit: Sue Hughes

After feeling "lost" following the death of her mum, a Colchester woman has been galvanised into action and will take on the "huge" challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Sue Hughes, 64, struggled to adapt to her mum Doreen McHenry, from Maldon, not being around after she passed away from dementia at her care home on January 19, 2021, aged 88.

Restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic meant Sue missed out on being with her mum when she died - something she said was a "real struggle" to deal with.

Sue Hughes spoke of how she struggled to find her place in the world after her mum died

Sue Hughes spoke of how she struggled to find her place in the world after her mum died - Credit: Contributed

She said: "After mum died I was so angry with the way it happened that I spent the first couple of months shouting and screaming at the TV.

"My eldest daughter said 'mum, you have got to stop, you cannot go on like this'. And that's when I thought 'I'm going to do something positive'. I started to get myself going. It was a real turning point."

The mother-of-two, a former social worker who has gone into academic research, used some money left by her mum to get a personal trainer to get fit and lose some weight and decided to take on a challenge to help fight dementia.

Doreen McHenry, from Maldon

Doreen McHenry, from Maldon, when she was 28 - Credit: Supplied by family

Sue said her mum had always been "a fiercely independent lady", bringing up four kids as a single parent.

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"She had such a sharp mind and wit, yet when dementia struck she struggled to live independently," she said.

"If she hadn't had Alzheimer's she wouldn't have been in that care home and in that room for 11 months and not died on her own."

Last year, Sue Hughes got a personal trainer, started running and lost weight

Last year, Sue Hughes got a personal trainer, started running and lost weight - Credit: Geoff Hughes

Sue will travel on her own to Tanzania and trek Kilimanjaro - the highest mountain in Africa - starting on June 22 this year.

She said she had never done anything like this before and had been unfit most of her life.

She got a personal trainer in April last year, started running twice a week and shed three stone.

Sue Hughes is raising money for the Alzheimer's Society

Sue Hughes is raising money for the Alzheimer's Society - Credit: Sue Hughes

"I have gone from zero to 100," she said. "All I knew was as I got fitter, I wanted to do something big."

She said after her mum died she was "lost for some time" as she tried to find her place in the world, but fitness and the challenge had "massively" helped her.

"It's helped me to move away from that anger and deep, deep sadness and the grief and to just get a hold of myself to tackle this huge challenge."

Doreen McHenry not long before she died

Doreen McHenry not long before she died - Credit: Sue Hughes

Sue has already raised more than £500 for the Alzheimer's Society since launching her fundraising page this week. To donate, visit the page.