In a rare show of unity at Stormont, 2,500 people came together at Alzheimer’s Society’s Belfast Memory Walk in the grounds of the estate on Saturday (16 September) to unite against dementia, so far raising more than £50,000 to fund the fight against the UK’s biggest killer, with that figure expected to more than triple.
The event was opened by John Graham and Lila Thompson, residents of the Sydenham Court supported housing for people with dementia, who featured in a Memory Walk ‘Fun Walk’ promotional video with Alzheimer’s Society ambassador Davina McCall, who will Memory Walk in her home town of Brighton.
Lila, who cut the ribbon to set the huge contingent of walkers on the path around Stormont Estate, said she was honoured to support Alzheimer’s Society, while John said he was overwhelmed both by the response to the video, but also by the huge turn out at the event.
Catherine Maguire, the Belfast Trust Activities Coordinator at Sydenham Court, supported John and Lila to take part in the video filming, and to attend Memory Walk. “It’s really emotional being here with so many people, all walking because of dementia. Everyone coming together like this, you see that everyone is doing it because dementia has affected them, and we are just so honoured and overwhelmed to be part of it.”
Jennifer Turner from Belfast took part in the walk with her family to remember her grandmother and raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society. Jennifer turns 30 in a few weeks, but instead of presents is asking people to make donations to Alzheimer’s Society in honour of her gran.
A receptionist at a GP practice in East Belfast, Jennifer and her colleagues recently trained as Dementia Friends to better support patients with dementia, and she was delighted to see some of them doing Memory Walk.
Bernadine McCrory, Northern Ireland Director of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer I am so glad that people from across Northern Ireland have united in their hundreds to improve the lives of people living with dementia.
“Every pound raised will help Alzheimer’s Society provide information and support, improve care, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.
“As a Society we are committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research to improve care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make this year’s Memory Walk such a huge success.”
This autumn more than 100,000 people will walk to beat dementia at Memory Walks across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Alzheimer’s Society is on track to raise £9 million from the events this year.