A FORMER MP’s wife was due to speak at the Labour Party Conference today after her husband died from Alzheimer’s disease.
Pat Boyes, the widow of former MP and MEP Roland Boyes, will speak at a meeting on life sciences at the conference in Liverpool about how her husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 1995, aged only 58.
Mr Boyes, who was MP for Houghton and Washington, died in 2006.
Mrs Boyes, who is a champion for Alzheimer’s Research UK, will open the discussion on “Delivering innovation to the patient” by talking about her husband’s illness and how they campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness and money for dementia research.
Mr Boyes took part in a trial for Aricept, which helps with some symptoms of Alzheimer’s and was approved in 2010 for use in earlier stages of the disease.
The trial was carried out at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital and the couple later spearheaded a campaign which raised £30,000 for an imaging suite at the hospital.
Mrs Boyes will be joined by two other speakers, Stuart Pickering-Brown, who is a professor of neurogenetics at the University of Manchester, and Rebecca Wood, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Pat, who lives in Peterlee, said: “Roland used to be such a great man, he could have taken on the world.
“It was so sad to see him decline through Alzheimer’s. I said to him: ‘You always say there is a solution to every problem. Come on, what’s the solution to this?’
“He looked at me and said ‘research’. I told him he was too ill to campaign, but he replied ‘we’ve got to do something before I can’t write any more’, and set about writing letters to everyone he knew to raise money. When he couldn’t write any more, I took over.”
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Stories like those of Roland and Pat Boyes remind us how urgently we need to invest in research so that we can develop treatments for dementia.
“It also reminds us of the vital role charities like Alzheimer’s Research UK and those with personal experience of dementia are playing to help deliver innovation to the patient.”
Also around the around the table will be representatives from industry, medical research charities, academia and the royal colleges, who will discuss the challenges in translating medical research.