Hundreds unite against dementia at Leeds Memory Walk at Temple Newsam

Hundreds of Alzheimer's Society walkers put on their walking shoes in Leeds to pay tribute to loved ones affected by dementia.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 4:45 pm

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A sea of blue decorated the estate as walkers came in their branded t-shirts with messages and images of loved ones, or words of support for the cause, pinned to them.

Those taking part completed either a short 2.5km walk, taking a gentle stroll around the historic estate, or the longer 6km walk which included the surrounding countryside.

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Memory Walk 2021 Pic: Steve Riding

The fundraisers stepped out to stop dementia in its tracks after a devastating period for those living with the disease.

Among them was Debbie Skenfield, of Cross Gates, Leeds, who lost her grandfather, Geoff Lancaster, to dementia last year and now faces losing her gran, Betty, after she was also diagnosed with the condition.

Pharmacy worker Debbie, 43, was asked to cut this year’s ribbon at the starting line.

She said: “I’ve taken part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk twice before but to lose my grandfather and then for my gran to be diagnosed, it means so much more to be taking part this year.”

Amy Allan and daughter Arabella, 20 months who were walking for grandmother and great grand mother Christine Bottom

Walking the 6km route with her son, his fiancé and her partner’s niece, she added: “I thought it might feel odd attending an event since the pandemic began but the atmosphere was great and everyone was in high spirits as always.

“You get such a heart-warming feeling from the day. People left so many personal and meaningful messages on the memory tree. It really brings home the extent of how many people are affected by dementia.

“I’ll be giving my participant medal to my gran, just like I did with my grandfather after the previous walks. I’m looking to do this every year with my family, it’s a great way to pay tribute and take time to reflect.”

Another participant, Sue Merrill, 74, was walking in memory of her partner John, who passed away in March aged 84.

Sue said: “I was amazed at just how many people turned out to walk. All generations took part which was lovely to see.

“Temple Newsam is a familiar walking place for me and I enjoyed the long route, despite the hills.

“On my shirt I had attached John’s name and said I was walking for the care home that looked after him too.

“I really enjoyed the day and it was a nice way to remember John.”

Natasha Mort, Alzheimer’s Society Area Manager, said hundreds turned out for the event.

She added: “We are in awe of our incredible fundraisers who turned out in their hundreds to support the estimated 76,000 people living with dementia in Yorkshire and Humber.

“It was extremely moving to see so many people come together to honour or remember their loved ones.

“The pandemic has been catastrophic for people with dementia, with Alzheimer’s Society’s services, like our Dementia Connect support line, used over six million times since lockdown began in March 2020.

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

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

Visit the Memory Walk website to find out more about the remaining events or to organise your own Memory Walk at a location and time of your choosing.

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