George Cyriax (1935-2016) A Tribute

We are sad to report that George Cyriax, Treasurer of the Alzheimer's Society from 1987 to 1999, died after a short illness on July 31, 2016.


George Cyriax was an economist, journalist and successful business man. Persuaded to be Treasurer by Dr Nori Graham when she was elected Chair 1987, he told her he'd 'only give the job six months'. In fact he threw himself into it with the same enthusiasm, diligence and intelligence that he applied to everything he did and ended staying 12 years.

At the time George became Treasurer the Society had an income of only £300,000 a year and the Department of Health was threatening to withdraw its grant. By the time he left twelve years later the income had increased fifty fold to £15 million.

George's background and vision enabled him to transform the financial situation of the Society. He started by communicating a very simple message; attracting finance was straightforward if one was clear what money was needed for. He and Nori Graham set about clarifying the aims of the Society and communicating the importance of its work. George was highly innovative in identifying sources of money. Before many other people he recognised the value of long-term funding and established the legacy programme and a style of fund raising which was well defined and systematic. He insisted that every donation, however small, received a friendly letter of thanks. He understood the importance of the relationship of the charity with its supporters.

George was a most engaging person to work with; argumentative, knowledgeable on all manner of topics, he had strong views about absolutely everything. But he also listened, changed his mind if persuaded, was interested in all the staff, rewarded good work with praise and was a friend as well as a colleague to many.

What George most liked about raising money for the Society was also spending it wisely. As the income continued to increase steadily, it enabled the expansion of support for carers, the development of the help-line and the funding of a variety of activities including research all of which led to greater awareness about dementia.  

With its current annual income of around £100 million the Society is in an even more satisfactory financial state, but it would be difficult to name anyone to whom the Society owes more for its secure financial foundations than George Cyriax.