The family of a dementia patient unable to recognise his own parents aged just 37 joined South Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan to kickstart a new charity walk.
Little more than a year ago Gareth Wilmot, from Goldthorpe, Barnsley, was living independently with his partner and three young children – but now he needs round-the-clock care and is unable to cross a road or go outside alone.
The dad was struck with a savage form of dementia called frontotemporal atrophy with Pick’s disease, and within the space of three weeks he stopped recognising his mum, Lesley.
Lesley and her husband, Gareth, joined poet Ian at Wentworth Castle Gardens, where he read a special poem to launch the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk, taking place at the country estate on Sunday, September 29.
Ian performed the piece –called Walking For Memory, Walking From Memory – on the steps of the gardens’ Rotunda temple, urging people to sign up for the stroll.
He said: “I was pleased to write a poem for the memory walk because language, rhythm and memorable speech help to remind us who we are, who we’ve been, and who we can still aspire to become.
“I know when someone has Alzheimer’s it has an impact on the whole family and this will be a walk for everyone. I hope hundreds of people will sign up for the event and step out for a great day in support of an excellent cause, raising awareness and funds for services for people with dementia and their carers.”
Lesley said: “Gareth was engaged and the impact on his partner and her children, as well as his brother and sister, all of us, has been devastating. It feels as if life has stood still.”
* To sign up, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk or call 0845 3060898.