The Great Dames are limbering up for their fourth year at Chariots of Fire in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK

Race veteran Dame Mary Archer has rounded up some fellow dames once again for Chariots of Fire this year to raise £5,000 for pioneering dementia research.

Dame Mary, who set up the Chariots of Fire team ‘The Great Dames’ in 2013, has signed up to take on the city’s famous relay race in support of the UK’s leading dementia research charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK. 

The Great Dames have raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities through Chariots of Fire with the team line-up changing each year – but always being made up of “genuine dames”. Dame Mary explained that although they won’t be the fastest, they will certainly make up for it with their fundraising. She said: “Each year we have done this our team has always been composed solely of genuine dames though one of these is also a baroness. It definitely requires some persuasion to get the line up together! “Our dames may not run as well as the younger teams but they certainly have great address books of contacts who support us!” 

Dame Mary has recruited more than ten dames for the relay race since she first led her team in 2013 and is now looking forward to another great race in September with aim of raising £5,000 for Cambridge-based Alzheimer’s Research UK. The scientist and former Cambridge University lecturer said: “Dementia is the most distressing condition so what is really exciting is that scientists are beginning to get a handle on it in terms of causation and the way the different diseases are structured. This paves the way for the diseases to be tackled and effective treatments to be identified.” 

This year’s Great Dames line-up includes Dame Polly Courtice, Director of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former BBC Governor and Chairman of the British Joint Intelligence Committee, who is also an original member of the team, and Dame Nicola Nelson-Taylor, a headteacher based in Newcastle who has been recognised for her services to education. 

Tim Parry, Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are delighted to have the support of The Great Dames who are true veterans of the Chariots of Fire race. Dame Mary Archer has supported our work for many years, having helped launch the charity when it started out as Alzheimer’s Research Trust and then again when she opened our current offices in Granta Park in 2014 so we are delighted she is supporting us once again. “We wish Mary and her dames the best of luck for race day and thank them for helping us power vital research here in Cambridge. We hope it will provide us with more answers to tackle the diseases that cause dementia, taking us one step closer to finding a life-changing treatment. 

Chariots of Fire is organised by Hewitsons Charitable Trust, the charity established and supported by Solicitors Hewitsons LLP, and backed by the Cambridge News. Charles Hewitson, Race Director, said “We are delighted that Chariots of Fire is regularly supported each year. A good number of teams have already signed up to this years race on the 17th September, but there are spaces for other teams to join in with this enjoyable event. I would encourage anyone interested in entering a team to do so to avoid disappointed as team numbers are capped at 400 this year.” 

The race starts and finishes on Queens’ Green. Team registrations close on Wednesday 13 September at 5pm unless all 400 teams have registered before that date.