TV presenter and Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter Fiona Phillips has been diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s disease.
In her newspaper column, Ms Phillips said she was diagnosed last year and has gone public in the hope she can help find a cure for the disease.
Fiona lost both of her parents to dementia – her mother Amy died with Alzheimer’s disease in May 2006 and her father, Neville, was diagnosed with the disease shortly after and passed away in February 2012.
In an exclusive interview with the Mirror where she works as a columnist, she said: “This disease has ravaged my family and now it has come for me.
“And all over the country there are people of all different ages whose lives are being affected by it – it’s heartbreaking. I just hope I can help find a cure which might make things better for others in the future.”
Phillips, who is an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador, said she always feared she would be diagnosed with the condition because her family members had the disease.
She continued: “It’s something I might have thought I’d get at 80… But I was still only 61 years old.
“I felt more angry than anything else because this disease has already impacted my life in so many ways; my poor mum was crippled with it, then my dad, my grandparents, my uncle. It just keeps coming back for us.”
Fiona has been a long-standing supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK. In 2013 she attended ICAP Charity Day with the charity, joining brokers on the trading floor to raise funds for vital dementia research. In 2016, Fiona appeared on This Morning in support of our Santa Forgot campaign. And in 2018 she spoke candidly about her family experience of dementia at the charity’s House of Lords reception celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first grant given by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We’re sending our love and support to Fiona and her family following her announcement that she’s living with Alzheimer’s disease. It takes such courage to go public with a diagnosis and Fiona knows better than most just how much good that can do. Awareness is vital and Fiona’s bravery will help untold people who are going through their own dementia journeys.
Fiona’s been a friend of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s for well over a decade, and her support has shone such a valuable spotlight on the importance of research in overcoming the diseases that cause dementia.
There are around 70,800 people with dementia in the UK who, like Fiona, are under 65 and we’re determined to find a cure to end the heartbreak it causes. And we’re so grateful to Fiona for standing with us in our mission.”