Step by step

From the August / September 2017 issue of our magazine, we hear from A Memory Walk volunteer in South Shields who now supports a person with dementia.

Volunteer Graham Burn.

Having been shocked by his late father's Alzheimer's diagnosis, Graeme Burn was grateful for the Society's involvement.

'They were always at the end of the telephone to give us advice,' he says.        

'They explained how it would impact him and how they could help.

'Dad ended up in care and they were very supportive in that process of getting him into the right environment.

'We were worried, but they helped us enormously.'

Humbling and uplifting

Wanting to give something back, retired teacher Graeme volunteered at last year's Memory Walk, where thousands of people unite at events across the country to raise funds for Alzheimer's Society.

'It was very humbling to realise how many people are affected by dementia and how determined people were to walk and make their mark,' says Graeme.

He was a marshall at what he describes as the 'spectacular cliff-top walk' at South Shields.

Graeme directed and encouraged walkers as they passed him on the course.

'It was very humbling to realise how many people are affected by dementia and how determined people were to walk and make their mark,' he says.

'It was also really uplifting to come across so many former students, colleagues and parents who were trying to make a difference.

'Lots of people with dementia were on the walk, which was also great.'

Events such as Memory Walk wouldn't be possible without the support of volunteers like Graeme, who is keen for others to get involved.

'I would encourage people to volunteer,' he says. 

'You get a load out of it. It's a very positive and fun atmosphere, and also very humbling.'

Sharing a laugh

Graeme says that Memory Walk also gave him the confidence to volunteer for Side by Side.

'I support a man with Alzheimer's who recently lost his wife,' he says.

'We go out for a drive or go walking. We go to a museum or out for lunch.'

This Alzheimer's Society service brings volunteers together with people who have dementia, helping them to continue getting out and about.

'It takes the pressure off his family and gives him a different environment,' says Graham. 'It's rewarding and really good fun.

'He's a lovely man who makes me laugh very much. He's a smashing bloke.

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