September 21 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Former mayor Andy Powell, 55, to take on run and make town ‘dementia friendly’ to honour his wife Jennifer who died in March.
"We had 53 incredibly happy weeks together; we were completely inseparable."
A FORMER Bideford mayor is honouring his late wife by completing a ‘bucket list’ they drew up together – including making the town ‘dementia friendly’.
Jennifer Gabriel-Powell was just 34 when she collapsed on March 30 and died of a brain haemorrhage, 14 months into her marriage to town councillor Andy Powell.
The couple met in 2012 when Andy was in North Carolina, America, on an archaeological dig looking for evidence of the lost colonies.
“I was wearing tie dye and in walked the archaeologist with his number two – which was Jenn, also wearing tie dye,” said Andy, 55.
“It was like it was meant to be and after the two weeks were up and I had to leave it was heartbreaking – there were a lot of tears.”
After parting ways, the couple talked endlessly over Skype and Jenn got herself a passport and bought a plane ticket to the UK. In August they were married.
“We had 53 incredibly happy weeks together; we were completely inseparable,” said Andy.
“On March 30 we went to Bideford Pannier Market because Jenn was trying to get a loaf of bread baked right for a competition.
“She fell unconscious in my arms and an hour-and-a-half later she was dead. The doctors said it was like a ticking time bomb.”
On New Year’s Day, the couple had drawn up a list of things they wished to do this year and now Andy has taken it upon himself to complete them.
As part of the list, he continued Jenn’s work to sign Bideford up to the Purple Angel scheme, which raises awareness of dementia and offers guidance for employees.
“Jenn was terrified she was going to die from Alzheimer’s, as it is so prevalent in her family – she really wanted Bideford to get involved in the scheme,” said Andy.
“As a result of my dear wife’s inspiration, Bideford has essentially become one of the first towns in England to be understanding of people with dementia.”
Andy has also vowed to take on a 5km run – “I’ve never run in my life,” he added – in North Carolina next year to honour Jenn as part of their bucket list.
“I am completely lost and devastated, just getting through each day putting one foot in front of the other,” he added.
“Even in death she has saved the lives of 10 people through donating her organs. She was a true inspiration and this is my way of honouring her.”