Friday, February 11, 2011

Walking amongst Champions

On 9th February, Mike and I had the honour of attending the launch of Alzheimer's Research UK at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Mike plays the very important role of 'back-room boy' in my fund-raising activities and this often doesn't get a mention so I was very pleased that he came too. He's the one who mops up my tears when my training doesn't go as planned, kicks me out of the door when I'd rather stay curled up in bed and waits patiently at the end of the marathon to greet his tired, sweaty and over-emotional wife!

The evening was hosted by Julian Huppert MP for Cambridge which is where the charity is based.

It's a very exciting time for Dementia research and I am proud to play a small part in the changes in attitude and awareness that are taking place. If only we could get the funding in place we'd have a chance of better understanding this devastating disease.

As soon as we walked in we were greeted by Sue who's the Media Officer and with whom I have a great deal of contact via email and the phone but rarely see in person. Sadly I haven't got a photo of her and must make sure I get one next time we meet.

She introduced us to lots of different people, the first being Jamie and Vicki Graham who raised the amazing sum of £90,000 for research into Dementia. Jamie was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 3 years ago at the age of 59 and he and Vicki have worked tirelessly to raise this staggering amount of money for research. I felt myself getting a bit teary as I listened to her talking about the Jamie she knew and loved who is gradually being taken away by this cruellest of diseases.

There were many of us there who have the honour of being named Champions in recognition of the things we have done to support research into Dementia. We each have our own story to tell and I felt very humble hearing about other peoples experiences.

One person I hoped would be there was Dione Priddy. Her husband Mark was just 36 when he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Dione decided to do something positive by running the 2010 Virgin London Marathon to raise money for dementia research and give hope to future generations. Sadly, Mark passed away just two weeks before the run but Dione was determined to go ahead and raised £18,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I'd read her story before the marathon last year and really hoped that she'd run past me so I could give her a hug,

I was very glad to have met Dione at last and her 2 lovely daughters, Eleanor and Bethany. We chatted with ease and decided that we'd like to do some fund-raising together so we've exchanged email addresses.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive, on the right of the photo, spoke with passion about the need for more funding into Dementia and Professor Julie Williams gave an optimist insight into current leaps in understanding the disease. She pointed out that Dementia research is at the same stage as Cancer Research was 20 years ago and said that with investment we could be looking at a positive outlook for Dementia.

Let's hope so.

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