MORE than 1,700 people joined former Eastenders star Jo Joyner in uniting against dementia at Leamington Memory Walk.
The actress, who grew up in Warwickshire and studied drama at Stratford College, cut the ribbon to start the town’s first Memory Walk on Saturday.
Jo said: “My Nana lived with us and sadly had dementia. She lost her ability to speak as the condition took its toll. I love a good walk at the weekend and I have the whole family here, including the family dog, as well as some members of my village too in support of Team Dorris.
“We have raised over £800 and I think events such as Memory Walk are great fun. We are here today to raise money, hopefully lots of money, to care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow.”
Walkers gathered in Victoria Park and decorated a Memory Tree with tags addressed to loved ones, before participants took on a 1.5km or a 5.5km walk.
Jo gave an opening speech where she recounted the challenges her family had faced when her grandmother developed dementia.
Many walkers decorated their t-shirts with mementos of people they were walking to remember, and each was presented with a medal on crossing the finish line.
Leamington mayor Caroline Evetts attended to offer her support.
She said: “Alzheimer’s Society is one of my chosen mayoral charities. I hope people will find compassion and companionship here today. Raising money and awareness is an important part of Memory Walk and people need to be aware that there is support out there for people living with dementia.”
Janice Le Tellier, Alzheimer’s Society operations manager for the region, thanked all those who took part.
She said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer.
“I am so glad that people from Leamington and across Warwickshire stepped out in their thousands to improve the lives of people living with dementia.
“Every pound raised will help Alzheimer’s Society provide information and support, improve care, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.
“As an organisation we are committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research to improve care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow.”