Dementia film director steps up to charity role

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A film-maker who made a moving documentary about his mother’s struggle with dementia has been given a top charity role.

Lee Pearse, aged 40, from Meersbrook, has produced several films raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as raising vital funds towards research into the condition.

The documentary maker has now been made a ‘champion’ of good cause Alzheimer’s Research UK to recognise his efforts.

Lee’s mum Valerie was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia six years ago, aged just 59, with his dad Rod stepping into the role of carer.

But Rod died tragically soon afterwards in a road accident and Valerie now needs round-the-clock care.

Lee’s most recent film, called My Name is Rod, focused on his dad’s devotion, and was made with support from his younger brother Andrew, as well as pals Ant Graham and Leon Lockley.

“The realisation that mum was ill was gradual,” said Lee, who works for Heeley City Farm and lectures at Sheffield Hallam University.

“She started to become detached and lose empathy. My brother and I helped dad care for her at home initially, but it was heartbreaking to see mum slowly become the shadow of the lovely, vibrant woman we knew.

“I felt furious and frustrated that this was happening to my family and wanted to scream to the world and let everyone know the truth about frontotemporal dementia. I set about turning that idea into a reality.”

He added: “I’ve learned a great deal about mum’s illness over the years, but I still feel distraught about what’s happened to mum, and angry that there’s not enough funding for research to find new treatments or to support creative work to help raise awareness.

“I’m proud to be doing something to help defeat dementia and I’m honoured to be made a champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK.”

Rebecca Wood, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to make Lee a champion – he truly deserves this honour. Lee is always willing to help us make the case for research and has increased awareness of frontotemporal dementia.

“This is our way of showing our appreciation for Lee’s hard work and dedication. He is helping to lift the stigma and misunderstanding which still surrounds the many forms of dementia.”

Frontotemporal dementia is the second most common form of the condition in people aged under 65.

n Visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org for details.