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Science, arts and business leaders declare their commitment to tackling dementia

Published 15 March 2007

Dame Judi Dench and neurologist Professor David Brooks are among prominent supporters joining a landmark programme championing the rights of people with dementia and their carers.

The Vice-Presidents, Patrons and Ambassadors programme was launched by the Alzheimer's Society at the House of Lords today (Thursday 15 March), with more than 30 influential people from the worlds of business, politics, science and the arts. Britain's first minister for the disabled the Rt Hon. Lord Morris of Manchester, a long-standing supporter of the charity and a Vice-President, hosted the launch.

Lord Morris says:

'The Alzheimer's Society is a society with a heart. Every day the charity's vital services, research programmes and campaigns help people with dementia, their families and carers. The Alzheimer's Society is literally providing a lifeline of support to some of the most vulnerable people in our nation.'

Actress Britt Ekland and leading dementia researcher, Professor Steven Rose, are among the Patrons. Ambassadors include television presenter and columnist Fiona Phillips, actor Richard Briers and old age psychiatrist Professor Robin Jacoby. Morella Kayman, one of the co-founding members of the organisation which later became the Alzheimer's Society, is also a a Vice-President, along with Angela Browning MP deputy chairman of the Conservative party. Malcolm Wicks MP and minister for the Department of Trade and Industry is also a Vice-President.

Dame Judi says:

'Dementia is an appalling condition that affects not just the person diagnosed, but everyone around them. I began to understand the devastating impact Alzheimer's has while playing the role of Iris Murdoch. No one should have to face dementia alone and the Alzheimer's Society is here to make sure they don't.'

Prof Brooks says:

'The resources and time spent on dementia is not proportionate to the numbers of people affected. The Alzheimer's Society plays an important role not just in educating people, but in raising awareness about the importance of research and the potential scientific breakthroughs.'

Dementia costs the UK £17 billion every year, according to the recent Dementia UK report commissioned by the Alzheimer's Society. This has reinforced calls for the government to establish a national dementia strategy as the numbers of people with dementia is forecast to grow to more than one million in less than 20 years. Members of the Vice-Presidents, Patrons and Ambassadors programmes will support campaign work by raising awareness of issues such as securing unrestricted access to drugs treatments for people Alzheimer's disease and quality care.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, says:

'Dementia affects people across the whole spectrum of society and our Vice-Presidents, Patrons and Ambassadors are all equally influential when it comes to raising awareness about its devastating impact. They have joined us in making a commitment to tackle dementia, helping us to play a part in effecting real change.'

Hazel Leventhal, whose sister Frances has Alzheimer's disease, says:

'My sister was diagnosed when she was still in her fifties. We battled for access to drugs, battled to find a home that suited her and then battled to pay the huge costs of this care.

The Vice-Presidents, Ambassadors and Patrons programme is hugely important because it will help influence, promote and change for the better the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with dementia and their carers.'

For more information, contact Jessica Mangold, Alzheimer's Society press office.

Notes for editors

  • The Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading care and research charity for people with dementia and their carers.
  • A full list of the Vice-Presidents, Patrons and Ambassadors with brief biographies is available.
  • Photographs of the Vice-Presidents, Patrons and Ambassadors programme launch are available from the Alzheimer's Society press office.
  • For information and advice on Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia call the Alzheimer's Society national helpline on 0845 300 0336.

The members of the Alzheimer's Society's Vice-Presidents, Patrons and Ambassadors Programme are:

Royal Patron

HRH Princess Alexandra

President Emeritus

Sir Jonathan Miller CBE

Chairman

Dr Nicholas Carey

Chief Executive

Mr Neil Hunt

Patrons

Professor David J Brooks, Dame Judi Dench, Ms Britt Ekland, Lord Moser, Professor Steven Rose

Vice-Presidents

Ms Angela Browning MP, Professor Jim Edwardson, Sir John Hannam, Dr Anne Hunter, Ms Morella Kayman, Dr Christine Kirk, Rt Hon the Lord Morris of Manchester, Baroness Murphy, Professor Martin Rossor, Lady Saunders, Mr Malcolm Wicks MP, Professor Gordon Wilcock, Ms Anne Robinson

Ambassadors

Ms Lynda Bellingham, Ms Jo Brand, Mr Richard Briers, Mr Paul Brooks, Mr Paul Dacre, Mr AA Gill, Dr Nori Graham, Mr Russell Grant, Professor Robin Jacoby, Ms Sally Lindsay, Mr Nicholas Mullings, Ms Fiona Phillips, Mr Bill Reinking, Mr Tony Robinson, Mr Robert Scott, Mr Kevin Whately, Professor Bob Woods

A full copy of the Dementia UK report is available.