NOBODY knows better than Peter Jones about the devastating impact of dementia.

As he stood in Bitts Park at the weekend, watching dozens of fundraisers take part in this year's Alzheimer's Society Carlisle Memory Walk, the 66-year-old retired electrician spoke of how his life has changed in the years since he was diagnosed with vascular dementia. "I do daft things," he said.

"Things like leaving the front door unlocked; or I can get on a bus and can't remember where I'm going."

Peter takes part in the Carlisle Memory Walk, organised by the county's Alzheimer's Society, because he knows how vital it is to raise awareness of the condition, showing other sufferers that they can still live a worthwhile life and showing society more generally that dementia can make people do peculiar things which should be met with patience and understanding.

An official ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society in Carlisle, he is widely regarded as an inspiration.

He is also determinedly positive.

"Every day is a bonus to me," he said.

"My family support me; and the Alzheimer's Society locally support me in what I do. I'm a member of the Dementia Alliance in Carlisle which is about making it a dementia friendly city."

The event on Sunday brought together many people whose lives have been touched by dementia.

They included Jenna Earl, who grandmother Elizabeth Fell died at 82 with vascular dementia.

"It's a horrible disease," said Jenna, from Carlisle, at the event with her children Dylan, 12, and five-year-old Lacey.

"We're walking in her memory."

Elizabeth's son-in-law Henry Early, 68, sid: "She was a very independent woman, and did fabulously well at running her business, an antique shop in Keswick. What happened came as a big shock to everyone."

Temple Sowerby woman Pauline Cleasby lives with her mum Kathleen, 70, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a decade ago.

"It's very difficult," said Pauline, at the walk with her 12-year-old daughter Olivia.

"Communication is the hardest part. She can't communicate so we're just guessing the whole time.

"We don't now if she's in pain.

"Before the illness, she was very, very active: bright and very sociable. She walked loads, never smoked, and never drank.

"This didn't run in the family."

Pauline, who works in a school, had taken part in fundraisers for the Alzheimer's Society several times.

Retired Carlisle GP Brian Scroggie was also there. He said: "I've been involved in the Alzheimer's Society for ten years. It's something that is becoming more and more common.

"People need a lot of support.

"It's not just the people who have Alzheimer's; the families and people who support them need as much support as the person with the condition. I worked as a GP and was involved with it all through my working life."

Sue Swire is a community fundraiser for the Cumbria Alzheimer's Society.

She said: ""We support anyone who is living with dementia, the person themselves or their families and carers. Carers are usually the ones that need the most support. Today is basically about fundraising and raising awareness. There are 850,000 people in the UK.

"Often, it's the person caring for somebody with Alzheimer's who needs the most support."

Earlier this year, on Cumbrian health chief warned that over the next 15 years the county will see a sharp rise in the number of people with dementia, rising from the current figure of about 8,000 people to around about 13,500.

The Society's National Dementia Helpline is 0300 222 11 22.



  • Dementia is a term used to describe symptoms such as loss of memory, behaviour changes and problems in reasoning.
  • The most common cause is Alzheimer's disease, accounting for about 60 per cent of cases.
  • It can result from brain damage caused by a stroke or neurological conditions such as Parkinson's.
  • Other types of dementia include vascular dementia.
  • Dementia is a progressive disease that gets worse over time.
  • Medication is available for some forms which slows the disease, allowing people to live well in their own homes.