On the march to rid so­ci­ety of de­men­tia

Sunday Sun - - News - By Mike Kelly Re­porter mike.kelly@ncj­me­dia.co.uk

MORE than 5,000 peo­ple united against de­men­tia by tak­ing part in the North East’s big­gest ever Me­mory Walk yes­ter­day.

The event, or­gan­ised by Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety, raised an es­ti­mated £362,000 to­wards re­search and treat­ment to sup­port those liv­ing with the con­di­tion.

A sea of peo­ple wear­ing bright blue Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety T-Shirts set off from Bents Park, South Shields, be­fore snaking their way along the spec­tac­u­lar 7km coastal route.

They walked in me­mory of loved ones lost or to pay trib­ute to a rel­a­tive or friend cur­rently liv­ing with de­men­tia. And many di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion took part too.

The walk was of­fi­cially started by BAFTA award-win­ning actor John Mid­dle­ton, whose Em­merdale char­ac­ter, vicar Ash­ley Thomas, died fol­low­ing a long-run­ning sto­ry­line that chron­i­cled his de­cline af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia.

The fa­ther-of-two, who has lived in New­cas­tle and Whit­ley Bay, said: “There’s a fan­tas­tic at­mos­phere here to­day and for me it’s al­most like com­ing home – you can al­most see ‘wor hoose’ from here.

“I loved play­ing Ash­ley and the de­men­tia sto­ry­line in par­tic­u­lar – it has been the role of my life so far.

“I could have walked away from this story once film­ing had fin­ished, but I can’t – in fact I can’t walk away from this story for the rest of my life be­cause I now re­alise how many peo­ple are af­fected by de­men­tia, and some­thing must be done about it.”

He added: “The Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety takes the view that you can live well with de­men­tia and that’s true – we have seen that to­day with many peo­ple who have the con­di­tion tak­ing part.

“But what we are work­ing to­wards is a world with­out

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