A Bedford couple took to sailing like a duck to water when they helped launch a charity walk which sets off early next month.
The Bedford Memory Walk will be starting from Priory Park lakeside at 11am on Saturday, September 6.
Christine and Jack Smith were taken out by the Priory Sailing Club where members kindly donated their time to help the campaign set sail.
The couple are supporting the Alzheimer’s Society event and are encouraging their fellow residents to sign up and fundraise.
Jack was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last May. The couple, from Elstow, have been married 51 years and Christine said she noticed changes in Jack’s memory quite quickly.
She said: “It was little things - he would offer me a coffee and then forget to make it, or we would be driving and he would forget where to go on a route he had done many times before. We went to the doctors a few times, but they said he was fine.
“At the time we were having a new house built and so I thought maybe it was due to the stress of that.”
Upon hearing the diagnosis, Christine said: “I was relieved but deep down I think I already knew. You can’t be with someone that long and not know. I felt apprehensive about what was to come - for Jack he was most upset about not being allowed to drive anymore, it was a real knock to his confidence. He hates being a passenger and he felt robbed of his independence. It took a good six months for him to get over that.”
Both Jack and Christine have utilised support services provided by the Alzheimer’s Society. The couple have joined a dancing club and Jack, 72, attends a cognitive group that has really helped boost his confidence.
Christine said: “Humour is my way of coping. There have also been positives. Jack is a much less fussy eater as he has forgotten what he doesn’t like, it has also really improved our social lives, we embrace a lot more and do activities we wouldn’t have done before.”
Last year hundreds of people took part in the Bedford walk - the Alzheimer’s Society flagship fundraising event - which raised around £1.6 million. The money is invested not only to support people living with dementia and their carers, but also into research better treatments and hopefully a cure.
Visit memorywalk.org.uk/bedford @alzheimerssoc
>> Bedford’s Waitrose store has shown their support for Alzheimer’s Society by donating 500 bottles of water for participants at this year’s Memory Walk. As well as the water more than ten members of the Waitrose team will be at the charity event acting as volunteers -they will be marshalling, registering walkers and giving out the medals.