SHE is the glamorous former talented amateur actor and beauty queen from Leeds who continues be a source of inspiration to family and friends as she battles dementia.
Beryl Rushton, who was crowned Miss Yorkshire as a teenager in 1959, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015 and now lives in a care home.
Her family are set to take part in next month’s Alzheimer’s Society’s annual fundraising Memory Walk at Temple Newsam in her honour.
Beryl, 77, won a beauty contest in Farsley where she grew up in the mid 1950s before taking part in and winning the Miss Yorkshire contest.
She was a local celebrity whose wedding to doctor Harry Stead in the early 1960s was featured in newspapers and on TV.
Beryl, who later lived in Bramley and Horsforth, moved to a care home in Sussex last year near daughter Jane Stead’s home.
Staff and residents at the home refer to Beryl as ‘Miss Yorkshire.’
Jane, 48, said her mother was an active member of a theatrical group in Guiseley and did voluntary work at hospitals and children’s care homes.
She said: “Mum loved her modelling days and often talked about them. I think it was probably the most exciting time of her life.”
Jane said her mother has a mischievous side to her character and used to work at a drycleaners in Leeds which dealt with Armley prisoners’ uniforms.
Jane said: “She would put saucy notes in every pocket so the prisoner got a little treat when he got his uniform back.”
She said it is devastating to see how Alzheimer’s has affected her mother’s sunny and out-going personality.
Jane added: “I go to visit her with flowers and some old photographs and try and go in being very positive, but I always come away feeling sad.”
Jane and her children Lily, 16, and Maud, 12, will take part in the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk at Temple Newsam Estate from 11am on Saturday September 22.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to the walk. It’s a way of paying tribute to my mum, and I think she’d be proud of me for that.”
Last year’s event attracted more than 3,500 people and raised almost £70,000 to support people living with dementia and to fund research into improving care and finding a cure.
There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, including more than 67,000 in the Yorkshire and Humber region – and the national figure is set to top a million by 2021.
Judith King, Alzheimer’s Society head of region, said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer with someone developing it every three minutes.
“For that reason it’s vitally important to raise not only awareness but also money to support those affected by the condition and to fund research into improving treatments and finding a cure.
“Events like Memory Walk are a great platform for highlighting our cause and it’s wonderful to hear the stories of those who are taking part and what has inspired them. I hope Jane and her children have a fantastic day out.”
For more information, go to www.memorywalk.org.uk