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'Dementia devastates lives' - hundreds turn out for loved ones at Memory Walk

PUBLISHED: 10:03 22 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:03 22 September 2019

The Alzheimer's Society Norwich Memory Walk 2018 at the Norfolk Showground. Miss Teen Norfolk Niamh Craske cutting the ribbon to start the walk. Picture: Angela Sharpe

The Alzheimer's Society Norwich Memory Walk 2018 at the Norfolk Showground. Miss Teen Norfolk Niamh Craske cutting the ribbon to start the walk. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Angela Sharpe Photography 2018

A Norwich woman who lost two family members to dementia cut the ribbon to set hundreds off on this year's Memory Walk.

The Alzheimer's Society Norwich Memory Walk 2018 at the Norfolk Showground. Woolner Family walking for Nanny Jean - Jean Woolner. Picture: Angela SharpeThe Alzheimer's Society Norwich Memory Walk 2018 at the Norfolk Showground. Woolner Family walking for Nanny Jean - Jean Woolner. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Amy Topley led the crowd who united against dementia at the Norfolk Showground on Saturday.

Her aunt Jean was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 59 in 2010. And just a year later her nanny Mo was also diagnosed.

Despite their different symptoms and the progression of the condition, both had to move into care homes.

Amy took part in her first Memory Walk in 2015, just four months after her nanny Mo passed away, and has continued taking part in Memory Walk since then. This year Amy volunteered at Norwich Memory Walk.

Amy Topley with her nanny Mo. Picture: Alzheimer's SocietyAmy Topley with her nanny Mo. Picture: Alzheimer's Society

"After my nanny Mo died, I felt like I needed to do something to help, which is why I walked at Memory Walk," she said.

"I really enjoyed it, seeing how so many strangers got together and shared their experiences with each other. I was so pleased I took part, so in 2016, 2017 and 2018 I came back as a volunteer."

She added it had been a great Memory Walk with the sun shining.

"My favourite part of volunteering is definitely giving out the medals - it's so nice to see how proud everyone is, and you can see people holding back tears," she said.

The Alzheimer's Society Norwich Memory Walk 2018 at the Norfolk Showground. Miss Teen Norfolk Niamh Craske with her mum Pauline Craske. Picture: Angela SharpeThe Alzheimer's Society Norwich Memory Walk 2018 at the Norfolk Showground. Miss Teen Norfolk Niamh Craske with her mum Pauline Craske. Picture: Angela Sharpe

"Memory Walk is such a heart-warming event, and I would recommend that everyone sign up to walk one if they can."

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One of Saturday's walkers, Helen Middleditch from Fakenham took part after her dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia last year.

She said: "He's in hospital at the moment, otherwise more of the family would have joined us, but I wanted to come along and do the walk. It's been a fantastic day, and I would definitely recommend everyone do a Memory Walk."

Debbie Foster, Alzheimer's Society Area Manager for Norfolk, said: "Dementia is now the UK's biggest killer with someone developing it every three minutes - yet dementia research still trails far behind other health conditions, after decades of underfunding.

"I am so glad that thousands of people from across Norfolk united against dementia to improve the lives of people living with the condition.

"Dementia devastates lives; it slowly strips people of their memories, relationships and identities.

"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.

"Alzheimer's Society is 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 brilliant success."

Walks are taking place across September and October. Norfolk residents that missed out at Norwich are encouraged to sign up to Leamington Spa on 28 September or Cambridge on 6 October; or people can organise one of their own.

To find out more about the remaining walks and Your Walk, Your Way, go to memorywalk.org.uk

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