Williamstown’s Roy Hamilton loved long-distance running until one day he became lost.
His wife, Gaye, says a heartbreaking Alzheimer’s diagnosis eventually stopped him from running because it wasn’t safe – before two big-hearted men enabled him to resume.
Now 69, Roy was originally a Wonthaggi boy who played football until his early 20s, before switching to umpiring. He has run 23 marathons.
“It’s probably six or eight years ago now, Roy was first diagnosed with dementia,” Ms Hamilton said. “About 18 months ago, Roy was having difficulty, when he went for a run, finding his way home. He would get lost, run a lot further than he needed to.”
On one occasion, Roy was running at Brimbank Park, where he had run for many years, and became lost.
A passer-by found him – he was, by then, wearing an ID tag – and contacted Ms Hamilton.
“It was clear then that it was just not a good idea for Roy to go for a run on his own,” she said.
A year ago, Ms Hamilton contacted Hobsons Bay Running Club, affectionately known as the Hobos, to see if anyone might like to go for a run with Roy.
Michael Slee replied and started running with Roy on Wednesdays.
Another Hobo, Terry Pearce, joined him on Mondays.
“They’re both such lovely generous people,” Ms Hamilton said. “If we can get this information out, my thought was that there might be more people like Roy who just don’t know how to get that sort of assistance.”
Terry said some days he and Roy had a pretty good chat.
“He’s still got his sense of humour,” Terry said. “He gets a bit stumbled on some words and things, but you just keep running.”
Michael said he had started singing while running with Roy, formerly a music teacher.
“One day, probably about a month ago, I rang on the doorbell,” Michael said.
“He’s often waiting there or near the front door.
“Almost as soon as I walked in, he just started singing Volare at me, so I started singing it back.”