Memory walkers aid battle against dementia

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FAMILIES strode out with fundraising purpose in South Yorkshire yesterday as they showed their support for the fight against dementia.

Around 350 people tackled the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk event, which was held near Barnsley.

The walk was started in the picturesque surroundings of Wentworth Castle Gardens by the Mayor of Barnsley, Coun Ken Richardson, with the help of Richard McCourt, better known as one half of children’s TV presenting partnership Dick and Dom. Sheffield-born McCourt said: “It was fantastic so many supported such a great event, and it touched the heartstrings to see people wearing signs and pictures showing who they walked for.

“We lost my mum Helen to dementia three years ago this week – she was only 64. Our family knows as much as anyone what it’s like to look after someone with dementia.

“We need to make sure people are aware of the disease – many still don’t understand. It’s important to know how to help if you meet someone with dementia and not shy away.”

Supporters of the walk included Graham and Lesley Wilmot, whose son, Gareth, 37, is in care as a result of dementia.

In one of the day’s most touching moments, Gareth joined his family at the event.

Mrs Wilmot, 63, from Goldthorpe, near Barnsley, said: “We decided as a family we wanted to do the walk and it has been a comfort to know that friends are still there for us and for Gareth. The support has been brilliant.”

Anne Simmons, support services manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in Barnsley, said the event had been “fabulous”.

She went on: “Seeing so many families has been fantastic and the walk has been vital in raising awareness as well as funds for research into better treatments.

“When one person has dementia the whole family is involved and it was important that this was a day for everyone.

“I would like to thank all the people who came along, the staff and volunteers, who made the event possible and turned it into such a success along with support from Bupa Care Services.”

The walk took place along two routes, one 2km and the other 10km.