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HRH The Princess Royal at the UK DRI

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I am very proud to say that I am a Trustee of the UK Dementia Research Institute and am absolutely delighted that so many people are running in the Virgin Money London Marathon to support the Dementia Revolution.

The UK Dementia Research Institute is staffed by hugely talented and highly skilled people who are carrying out vital work. They deserve the exposure of this Dementia Revolution, which I see as the beginning of a new concerted effort to make sure that funding flows into finding a solution and giving hope to people dealing with these cruel diseases.

Times have changed

I have been aware of dementia for more than 35 years, as so many family members have been affected in various forms. In the past there was definitely a stigma and a reluctance to discuss the effects the condition had on individuals and their families.

This meant that people didn’t hear about it. It was just something that people thought you had to expect with older age and you certainly didn’t tell anyone or you would bring shame on the family.

I recall shaking a bucket in the street to raise funds for dementia a few years ago when the only people who handed over cash were those who wanted to talk about their experiences with their mother or their grandparents. Others walked by looking bemused, as their lives hadn’t been touched by dementia and they had no idea what we were collecting for.

I think those days are gone and feel so sorry that people felt that they had to keep their diagnosis to themselves. Dementia is not something to hide.

People with dementia and their carers need a lot of support and the scientists devoting their lives to discovering all there is to know about why it happens need our thanks – and our cash, so they can carry out as much investigative work as possible.

Marathon day

The London Marathon is a fantastic international event, which I have attended on a few occasions – note the word ‘attended’.

My friends would tell you that the idea of me running such a distance is laughable. However, in my defence I would claim that the people supporting on the streets have a very important role to play.

The atmosphere is created not only by the magnificent runners but also by those who come along to watch. As at many sporting occasions you need the supporters to sing, shout and generally give encouragement.

Most of the runners will never have run 26 miles before and may never do it again. Each runner has their own backstory. Many of the stories are very emotional and it is important that they are told.

The crowds help those watching on television all over the world realise that this event really means a lot to so many people. And this year the focus on the Dementia Revolution will give so much more exposure to people who are dealing with the condition now and to the researchers seeking a solution.

A royal visit

I was privileged to attend the recent visit by HRH The Princess Royal to the UK Dementia Research Institute at University College London the other day.

Princess Anne showed a great deal of interest and knowledge as she toured the facility meeting people at the ‘coalface’ of research. She spoke eloquently about her visit and was also clearly impressed by Keith, the gentleman who spoke just before she unveiled the plaque to mark her visit.

Keith has been diagnosed with dementia, and spoke eloquently and with passion about his situation. I thought it was fantastic to hear his unique perspective amongst all those researchers. Developing the link between people who have been diagnosed with dementia and the scientists carrying out this vital research helps keep everything in perspective and in focus.

Good luck and thank you to everyone running for the Dementia Revolution and to those supporting them on the day and behind the scenes!