Celebrities urge public to unite against dementia

Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the public to set aside their differences – from age to tastes and social standing to political allegiances – and unite in the fight against dementia, as it’s set to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.

Jo Brand and James Cracknell

Celebrities and sports stars including Jo Brand, James Cracknell, Meera Syal, Robbie Savage and Uriah Rennie are backing the biggest ever campaign from Alzheimer’s Society calling on people to come together to defeat dementia. The campaign is also being supported by Richard & Judy, Carey Mulligan, Hugh Dennis and Sally Lindsay.

The charity launched the campaign on 24th April with a TV advertisement voiced by acclaimed actor Bill Nighy at its heart.

Directed by Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Daniel Barber (Harry Brown, The Tonto Woman) and set to an original score by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, the ad plays upon issues that can cause divisions in society including age, gender identity and whether people voted in or out in the recent EU referudum. It shows opposing pairs coming together to unite against dementia.

In support of the campaign, two of the UK’s biggest commercial TV channels ITV and Channel 4 united to premiere the campaign ad – the first time the two have worked together on an advertising premiere for a charity.

Someone develops dementia every three minutes and there’s currently no cure – but the charity says people with dementia tell them that they face dementia alone.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We’re determined to bring everyone’s attention to the massive injustice faced by people with dementia and their carers, with too many denied the support they need.

“Alzheimer’s Society hears day in, day out about people with dementia and their carers struggling. Some people tell us about the impossible choices they have to make, from the carer having to choose between a knee operation and caring for her Mum, to a man with young onset dementia who had to give-up work and ask his daughter to pay the mortgage.

“We urgently need people to unite with us to improve care, offer help and understanding to those affected and find a cure. Together, we can bring about change.”

Ex-Wales international footballer Robbie Savage lost his dad, Colin, to younger onset dementia – which affects more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 – when he was only 64, after being diagnosed at 58.

Robbie added: “People think dementia is an old person’s condition but it isn’t. My dad was struck down in his prime. Dementia can affect anyone anywhere.

“It was so painful to witness my hero and best friend gradually slip away. In the end he couldn’t speak, swallow or recognise me at all. To see him like that was devastating for the whole family. That’s why it’s so important for me to get involved with this campaign.”

Research conducted by the charity and Ipsos MORI reveals a great deal of fear exists around dementia – just under half (44%) of people fear dementia more than any other health condition. It also reveals a deeply concerning lack of public understanding about the biggest health crisis facing society. Only a fifth (22%) of people know that dementia is a condition that results in death while 28% wrongly believe there is a cure.

Jo Brand, ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, told us: “It’s deeply worrying that every three minutes someone develops this devastating condition. What’s almost as worrying is despite not being able to prevent it, cure it or even slow it down, the funding of dementia research is far too low. We need everyone to unite against dementia and change this now.”

James Cracknell, who is joining forces with Jo Brand to support the campaign, added: “It’s now time for us to come together and unite against dementia with Alzheimer’s Society. We owe it to our children…this is important!”

Alzheimer’s Society is the leading dementia charity. Unite now at alzheimers.org.uk.