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Four generations unite for family matriarch Iris at Memory Walk

Four generations unite for family matriarch Iris at Memory Walk

A family from Milton Keynes are urging people across Buckinghamshire and beyond to unite against dementia by signing up for one of Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walks.

The Clay family are taking part in , which takes place on Sunday 22nd September – the day after World Alzheimer’s Day. It starts from 10am at Willen Lake and walkers have the choice of a 3km or 5km route.

Gordon ‘Gramps’ Clay (85) is walking with wife Iris (86), who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. They will be joined by sons Barry Clay (58) and Kevin Clay, 61, daughter in law Jackie Clay (57), granddaughters Carly Clay (32) and Charlotte Clay (38), and great grandchildren Lawson (7), Isabel (7), Millie (3), Esmee (8), Hughie (5) and Theo (2).

The charity’s flagship fundraising event takes place across the UK during autumn and aims to raise vital funds towards research, services and campaigning. Alzheimer’s Society has pledged to invest £150 million in the next decade to search for better treatments and work towards a cure for dementia.

It was great grandson Lawson who had the idea for the family to all take part.

Lawson (7) said:

“I have wanted to do something to raise money for nan for a long time. I like walking and running so I went to my gramps and said I'd seen the Memory Walk for Alzheimer’s Society on TV and I wanted to do it with him. He was over the moon and said definitely and then he got a couple of carers involved. But now all the family are doing it too, which is great.

“Sadly I don't really have any memories of nan without her having dementia. But I miss the days when we used to go round and she'd get me chocolate out the fridge and she knew who I was.”

Gordon and his family’s lives were transformed as a result of Iris’ dementia.

Gordon Clay said:

“To see Iris now is heart breaking. Iris is now totally immobile and incontinent. I am devastated, but with help from family and friends and carers I am not totally alone. I’m taking part in Memory Walk as I believe I need to do something to avoid other members of my family getting this terrible condition.”

Isabel (7) said:

“We are walking with our Great Nan Iris, we love her so much and miss the old her when she knew who we were. I miss being able to talk to her and have a conversation and when I use to cuddle her and she cuddled me back.

“I'm also walking in memory of my dad’s mum Nanny Joy, she passed away from dementia in March this year and I miss her so so much, she is now a star in the sky but I wish I could see her just one more time for a massive hug, as hers where the best.”

Isabel’s mum (Iris’ Granddaughter) Carly Clay added:

“My Nan was absolutely devastated when she had the diagnosis, I remember the day very well as we hugged and cried a lot together. She said to me that she never wants to forget me and that she loved me very much.

"I have found it very hard to watch my Nan disappear more and more each day, I feel like I lost a best friend the day my Nan didn't know who I was anymore.”

Not only are the family taking part in Milton Keynes Memory Walk, they will also be cutting the ribbon to mark the start of a walk that will see hundreds of people all taking the steps to unite against dementia.

Iris’ son Barry Clay, said:

“My dear and lovely mum Iris Clay suffers from advanced dementia. Over the past few years we as a family have had to watch and witness her suffer an transfer from the most loving and kind Mum, Nan and Great Nan imaginable - into a person who doesn’t know who she is, or anybody around her including her close and immediate family.

“This was this was made shockingly real to me when nearly two years ago she looked me straight in the eye and said ‘Who Are You?’. I can’t describe how this devastating question made me feel.”

“Our family are taking part in the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk around Willen Lake in Milton Keynes. All the family will be taking turns to push mum in her wheelchair to raise funds for this great cause. All donations however large or small will make a huge difference to this brilliant charity Alzheimer’s Society, to continue its work in supporting families like ours and researching this terrible disease so hopefully one day it will be eradicated.”

The Clay family are calling on people to against dementia and register for a Memory Walk now at memorywalk.org.uk

Linda Goddard, Alzheimer’s Society Area Manager for Buckinghamshire said:

“Dementia is now the UK’s biggest killer with someone developing it every three minutes - yet dementia research still trails far behind other health conditions, after decades of underfunding.  We are calling on family, friends – and furry four-legged supporters – to unite against dementia this autumn. Dementia devastates lives. Walk with us at Memory Walk and dementia won’t win.

“Across Buckinghamshire, an estimated 6,800 people are living with dementia and in the hour-and-a-half it takes to complete your average Memory Walk, 30 people will develop dementia in the UK. Please sign up to Memory Walk and help raise vital funds for dementia research. Unite against dementia and register now at memorywalk.org.uk”

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