TV agony aunt Denise Robertson said she has been filled with optimism that a dementia cure can be found after formally opening an ‘uplifting’ charity fundraising event.
Sunderland-born Denise spoke out after cutting the ceremonial ribbon at the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk that attracted a record-breaking 2,500 people from across the North East to the Gateshead Quayside.
“I thought it would be a rather sombre occasion but the opposite was the case,” Denise said.
“Yes, there were a few tears because people are walking for people who are gone and that’s lovely in its own way because they are incredibly motivated.
“But they are here taking part in the Memory Walk to help other people by raising awareness and raising money so my overwhelming feeling is of huge optimism.
“It’s a really, uplifting inspirational event which is getting bigger and bigger each year. It will go down as the biggest mass show of support for people with dementia in the North East and that bodes well for the future.”
The event is expected to raise £100,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society and will fund services such as Dementia Cafes and Singing for the Brain groups on Wearside and to boost research.
“I know from personal experience just how devastating a disease dementia can be and it can be heart-breaking,” said Denise who lives in East Boldon.
“Dementia is touching the lives of more and more families in the North East and so it was wonderful to be part of such an important gathering of people of all ages.
“They all have one motive which is to create a world without dementia. That will happen one day and I feel that there is now an unstoppable momentum but it will take time and patience as no cure is in sight at the current time.
“So, in the meantime, they want to do all they can to make sure that people with dementia and their carers get the support they need in what can be a very tough time and for research at the region’s universities.
“It was heartening to see so many people who were taking part from Wearside and South Tyneside because they helped make it a massive show of strength and that would have grabbed people’s attention which is so important.”
Among those taking part were a team of staff from the Washington Grange Care Home who donned Hawaiian outfits on a day when the North East was bathed in sunshine.
“The staff are here to show their wholehearted support for people who are living with dementia and their loved ones,” said Paula Joicey who works at the care home.
“More and more families are affected by dementia and we know that people who have dementia and getting younger and younger. That’s why it is so important to have events like this.
“It would probably take people by surprise just how many people took part but it just puts things into perspective and shows that we’ve got to all come together to help people with dementia and their families.”
Sunderland-based Alzheimer’s Society community fundraiser Rebecca Scott added: “It was amazing event and means that we have taken another step towards our goal which is to find a cure for dementia.”