Peterborough United stars and manager take part in Memory Walk opened by Alzheimer’s patient who enjoyed surprise visit

More than 800 people stepped out to unite against dementia at the Memory Walk in Peterborough on Sunday.

Monday, 16th September 2019, 7:32 pm
The Memory Walk at Ferry Meadows. Photo: Chris Lowndes

Patrick Culhane (78) opened the walk with his grandson Dylan (10). Patrick was diagnosed with Alzheimer‘s in 2016 and receives weekly support from the memory clinic at the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Resource Centre in Lincoln Road.

Patrick was joined on the walk by his own children and had a surprise visit from his sister, who joined him from London.

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The Memory Walk at Ferry Meadows. Photo: Chris Lowndes

His son Matthew said: “We had a lovely day with the family. Dad had his own children and grandchildren with him, as well as his wife and other close family members.

“He was very enthusiastic about opening the walk and it was nice to see him up on stage as a representative from Alzheimer‘s Society read a speech about his former athletics career - he‘s always been very proud of that.

“Dad was confused as we walked but we stayed close by him and reminded him what we were doing. My mum was waiting for him at the finish line. They just embraced each other as he crossed the line.

“The atmosphere was great. We all really enjoyed the event.“

Peterborough United chief executive Bob Symns and manager Darren Ferguson doing the Memory Walk

Supporting the walk were first team players from Peterborough United, the club mascot Peter Burrow and staff including chief executive Bob Symns and manager Darren Ferguson.

The club has chosen Alzheimer‘s Society as its charity of the year this season.

Peterborough City Council leader Cllr John Holdich, whose dad is believed to be the first person to have Alzheimer’s written on their death certificate, and chief executive Gillian Beasley also took part.

Walkers, who were given a Zumba warm-up at the start line, could choose between a 2km and 6km route.

Bob Symns and Frazer Blake-Tracy from Peterborough United with Mayor of Peterborough Cllr Gul Nawaz and Kevin Bowyer, Jess Chester and Debbie Holmes at the Dementia Resource Centre's 5th birthday event. EMN-190913-173905009

Gary Sutcliffe, Alzheimer’s Society community fundraiser for Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, said: “In the hour-and-a-half it takes to complete your average Memory Walk 30 people will develop dementia in the UK - yet dementia research still trails far behind other health conditions after decades of underfunding.  

“I am so glad that hundreds of people from across Peterborough and the surrounding areas united against dementia to improve the lives of people living with the condition.

“Dementia devastates lives; it slowly strips people of their memories, relationships and identities.

“Every pound raised from Memory Walk will help Alzheimer’s Society provide information and support, improve care, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.

“Alzheimer’s Society is committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research to improve care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make this year’s Memory Walk such a brilliant success.”

Friday also saw the Dementia Resource Centre celebrate its fifth anniversary.

In that time, more than 90 groups and activities have been attended more than 15,000 times by people living with dementia, and nearly 6,000 times by carers.

Sandra Hindley (74) attends a carers peer support group once a week at the centre. Her husband Peter (75) is living with mixed dementia.

She said: “I look forward to the group every week. As dementia is a progressive condition, things gradually get worse and it can be incredibly hard at times.

“It’s so refreshing to be with people who understand what you are going through and can share similar experiences. I’ve made friends at these groups too which is so important to feel you are not alone.

“We first got in touch with the centre three years ago and Peter has since attended and enjoyed many of the activity groups.

“We are very lucky to have this facility in Peterborough and long may it continue.”

Mayor of Peterborough Cllr Gul Nawaz, Mayoress Amreen Khauser, Peterborough United chief executive Bob Symns and club mascot Peter Burrow all attended the event.

Kevin Bowyer, Alzheimer’s Society services manager in Peterborough, said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating five years of this unique service. I’m proud of the valuable support our dedicated staff deliver each day.

“We’re not just helping those directly affected by dementia but trying to make Peterborough a more dementia friendly place to live. Everyone has a part to play in making this happen.”

Anyone affected by dementia in Peterborough can get in touch with the Dementia Resource Centre by calling 01733 893853 or emailing [email protected]