We meet the Dementia Friend starring in our TV ads for Memory Walk to encourage others to experience this enjoyable and fulfilling event.
Claire’s family began taking part in Memory Walk after her mother’s diagnosis in 2013, and the impact of her first walk has stayed with her.
‘I felt isolated because dementia isn’t talked about like cancer or heart disease,’ she says. ‘But joining Memory Walk, you feel you’re not on your own.’
Every autumn, thousands of people unite at Memory Walks all over Wales, England and Northern Ireland. As well as raising millions for research and support, it’s a great way to come together for the cause.
‘I wasn’t really sure what to expect,’ says Claire, now 44 and a Dementia Friend. ‘But I walked into a very positive, happy and upbeat atmosphere, which was amazing.’
Claire’s mum, Gill, lives in south Wales and was 69 when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, though this was later changed to mixed dementia – Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
‘Memory Walk has been really important to us as a family,’ says Claire.
Living in London, Claire had noticed a change in her mum over the phone before it became clear she was withdrawing from conversations and daily activities.
Gill and John joined Swansea’s Memory Walks for two years in a row, and both Claire and her sister have taken part in others.
‘It’s been really important to us as a family,’ says Claire.
Keen to get others involved, Claire is starring in our TV ads for Memory Walk. She says filming the ad was great fun. ‘It just felt like a fun day with friends.’
Using her phone, Claire showed the ad to Gill, who has been in residential care for a year and now only says the occasional word.
‘Mum has barely spoken on the last few visits, there’s very little interaction or recognition.
‘She was intently looking at the screen. I showed her the ad a second time, and she was taking it in even more.
‘I asked her if she liked it and she said, “Yes.” It was like her endorsing it for me, like she was saying, “Go ahead.”’
Find your nearest Memory Walk
Visit our Memory Walk website to find a walk in your local area.