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Thousands walk in South Shields to fight dementia

The South Shields Memory Walk Credit: North News

Thousands of people joined forces to unite against dementia yesterday (Sat) as the North East hosted its biggest ever Memory Walk.

More than 4,500 gathered in South Shields to pay tribute to loved ones who have battled the condition and those living with it.

Participants set off on the 7km walk from Bents Park before following a breath-taking coastal route.

The event, which raised thousands of pounds for Alzheimer’s Society, has grown in popularity year-on-year – so much so that it had to be moved from its previous starting point outside Gateshead’s Baltic Square to accommodate this year’s record number of participants.

Credit: North News

“We were blown away by the numbers this year.

Last year we had around 2,500 which was a record in itself, but this yearwe almost doubled that, which is amazing.

“People walk for all sorts of reasons. More than anything else it provides them with an opportunity to pay tribute to a special person in their lives.

“The majority will have a personal connection to someone who had dementia or is currently living with the disease, but that’s not always the case.

“There are also those who take part simply because they realise dementia is a growing problem and that there’s a desperate need for money to fund support services and research.”

– Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk Officer Rebecca Scott
Credit: North News

Among those at yesterday's event were three generations of the Hartley family from Thornley, County Durham.

In the space of just 12 months Catherine Hartley learned her 74-year-old husband Philip and mother Annie, 88, both had the condition.

Yesterday the 67-year-old was joined by daughter Helen Maw, 41, and granddaughter Catherine, 18, for the walk.

She said:

"We've had a wonderful day. The atmosphere was amazing and the route was spectacular."

Brian, 70, of Leadgate, Consett, took part with daughter Karen, 41, in memory of his late mother Peggy, who died 10 years ago.

He said: "It's been a great day - the best Memory Walk yet."

Alzheimer’s Society research shows 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, around 35,000 of them in the North East.

In less than 10 years a million people will be living with the condition – and this will increase to two million by 2051.