Around 500 people took a stroll around Cardiff’s Bute Park yesterday in a special event to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
The charity’s annual Memory Walk attracted hundreds of people, many of whom have seen loved ones and relatives affected by dementia.
The first to finish was 10-year-old Daniel Amesbury from Llantrisant, near Pontypridd, who walked for his great-grandmother, Elizabeth Greasley, who turns 90 next March.
He walked alongside his mother Ruth, a finance officer for the Alzheimer’s Society branch in Cardiff and the Vale.
He said: “I love my great-grandmother so much. She has dementia so this is for her. I really enjoyed it and want to do it again next year.”
At the start line an hour earlier, the Young Person With Dementia choir sang Que Sera, Sera and You Will Never Walk Alone.
They followed a rendition of Over the Rainbow sung by 19-year-old Wizard of Oz star Sophie Evans, who was invited to start the event.
The Tonypandy-born singer said: “Singing and music bring people together and inspire confidence among them. I am very proud to be part of this charity event and it’s lovely to see so many people coming together for a great cause.”
Walkers had the option of two routes around Bute Park. Some took a shorter 3.5km trip while others went further, completing a 12km route.
It is hoped the event will raise some £25,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society – £5,000 more than last year’s total.
For 50-year-old Sujjata Singh, manager of the Ty Enfys Care Home in Pentwyn, Cardiff, the walk was just a warm-up. In three weeks’ time she will trek the Great Wall of China to add to her fund-raising campaign.
So far she and her colleague, 50-year-old Sandi Millichip, have raised £5,000 for the cause.
She said: “We set out to raise £3,500 but have made so much more so far. It’s very important that we raise as much as we can because so many people we care for not only live with Alzheimer’s, but also suffer from other conditions as well.”
Sandi added: “For us, walking today will help do more for our tenants and provide more days out to keep them active.”
Among the crowds, crossing the finishing line with his wife was 90-year-old Jerry Maylor, who lifted his walking stick above his head in victory.
His wife of 45 years, 77-year-old Shirley Maylor, who is also his carer, said that part of her husband’s remarkable progress is down to a choir in Pontllanfraith, near Rhymney, who help people with dementia.
The group is called Singing for the Brain and its secret is to let its members learn music with rehearsal sheets. That way, Jerry and others like him can train their minds to retain memory.
He said: “I’ve lived with Alzheimer’s for three and a half years but thankfully my memory is still fairly good.
“I like to talk to people who also live with dementia. Events like today’s give people a chance to share their experiences and it gives those who have only recently been diagnosed renewed confidence.”
Rhodri Davies, fund-raising manager for Alzheimer’s Society Wales, said it was important to see more people show their support year on year as the number of dementia patients is increasing.
He said: “It is tremendous to see so many people supporting the Alzheimer’s Society today, especially with the backing of people like Sophie Evans.
“To see some of those turn up today – whether it’s for someone they know living with dementia or in the memory of someone who did – it is very pleasing.”
For help or to seek advice, go to www.alzheimers.org.uk or call the Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline on 0845 300 0336.