Actress Pam Ferris is helping to highlight the impact of dementia by lending her voice to a new animation from Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Pam, best known for playing Sister Evangelina in Call the Midwife and Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, recorded the voiceover for the short film, having witnessed the devastating effects of dementia first-hand. Elizabeth Frost, Pam’s mother-in-law and mother to her actor husband Roger Frost, developed Alzheimer’s disease in her late seventies. She passed away in 2015, aged 99.
The thought-provoking film was developed in collaboration with production studio Brickwall and brings together a range of information and startling statistics about the impact of dementia in the UK and around the world. The animation also highlights the difference being made through research, and the progress Alzheimer’s Research UK is making in the fight against the condition.
Pam is joining Alzheimer’s Research UK in urging people to share the film with friends, family and colleagues to improve understanding of a condition affecting 850,000 people across the UK today.
Pam, who also played Aunt Marge in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Ma Larkin in The Darling Buds of May, said:
“I was only too happy to support this vital project to help people understand the true impact of dementia, and what’s being done to tackle it. It’s a cause very close to my heart.
“My mother-in-law, Elizabeth, lived in Hackney and was a proper east ender. She was a real grafter – a lovely, selfless woman. Even into her eighties she was up a ladder cleaning the windows or taking a Sunday dinner round to one of what she called ‘elderly neighbours’.
“But we first realised something was wrong when she turned up at our house unexpectedly at an unlikely time of day. From there, things got progressively worse, and the circular, repetitive conversations started. Then she began experiencing hallucinations, and she thought people were in her house or that she’d been burgled. She even set the house on fire a couple of times.
“The turning point came when she developed a bladder infection and she was admitted to hospital. That’s when her Alzheimer’s diagnosis was confirmed.
“After bouncing around the care system for a while, she ended up back in Hackney in a wonderful care home, where she remained for the final 15 years of her life. At first, she was convinced she worked there, and would tell us she had to keep all the residents happy. To make her feel as comfortable as possible, we redecorated her room, putting life-size faces of her family at head height along the wall. She would often talk to them in preference to anyone in the room. We were very lucky we found somewhere she was happy and safe.”
“I’m proud to have lent my voice to this animation, and hope people will watch it, share it and support Alzheimer’s Research UK’s vital work.”
Tim Parry, Director of Communications at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We are hugely grateful to Pam for voicing our film and for sharing her experiences of dementia, which sadly are shared by so many people across the country. As our animation highlights, research is making strides in the fight against this devastating condition, but we still have a long way to go to defeat dementia – and we need support to do it. Only through improving public understanding of dementia and its impact can we inspire a fightback against the condition.
“It’s inspiring to see Pam lend her voice to the fightback against dementia, and we hope people will share the film to help raise awareness of our greatest medical challenge.”
The animation can be viewed and shared at www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/dementia-research-statistics
For more information on the latest facts and figures on dementia, visit Alzheimer’s Research UK’s new Dementia Statistics Hub at www.dementiastatistics.org