Former Newcastle striker Joe Allon today struck a blow against dementia by opening Alzheimer’s Society Tyneside Memory Walk.
It was the first time that the charity’s Memory Walk had taken place on the Quayside and Joe, who also played for Hartlepool, admitted he was overwhelmed by the amount of people who have rallied behind the cause.
‘I know how devastating a disease dementia is but this amazing turnout showed that we are going in the right direction in terms of tackling the stigma that is attached to the disease.
‘It shows the Society is increasing understanding and also raising much-needed funds for research and services. Events like Memory Walk show there is a real momentum to make our communities more dementia-friendly.’
People of all ages took part in Memory Walk, which started and finished at Baltic Square with walkers having a choice of 2km and 10 km distances on both banks of the Tyne. Joe added:
‘I feel proud to be doing my to raise awareness and funds and clearly so are many, many other families across Tyneside which is really encouraging. Memory Walk brings dementia out into the open which is vitally important.
‘More and more people are being diagnosed so it’s vital that we create environment that will help people with dementia to live the lives they want to live. Memory Walk is a step in the right direction – in more ways than one.’
Among the walkers were superheroes led by Iron Man while Tynesiders of all ages responded to the Alzheimer’s Society call to join the stroll.
This included 11 members of a family who put their best feet forward for the charity in memory of the late Tony Shepherdson who lived in Gateshead and lived with dementia in the latter years of his life. His son Ernie said.
‘He would have loved Memory Walk because he lived life to the full and loved taking part in great outdoor events like this.
There are now more than 16,500 people diagnosed with the condition in the North East. Working with partners, the Alzheimer’s Society runs a range of services from day care, through to providing befrienders, dementia cafes and carer support groups.
For the third year running Memory Walk was held in partnership with Bupa Care Homes. Together, Alzheimer’s Society and Bupa aim to support more people living with dementia through the vital funds that are raised.
Alzheimer’s Society acting interim area manager Nicki Dyson paid tribute to the team behind Memory Walk. She added:
‘I would like to thank all the people who came along, the staff and volunteers, who made the event possible and turned it into such a success along with support from Bupa Care Services.’
For every walker who took part, Bupa Care Homes will donate a further £2.50 to support people living with dementia.