EMOTIONAL Gerry Hollands thought of his mum as he joined charity walkers in Bognor Regis in a downpour.
Gerry and the other 60 supporters of the Memory Walk ignored the heavy rain to complete a two-mile route around the town to raise almost £600.
They were organised by Elizabeth House team leader Mandy Thurlgood with its manager, Marian Drake, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society as part of a nationwide campaign. Gerry, 71, said his mother Winnie Hollands died in July a week before her 94th birthday.
“She had been in Elizabeth House for about six years and had had dementia for 15 years.
“Dementia is a hard condition. People who have it forget and it was difficult for my wife because my mother thought I was her husband.
“I support the home whenever I can. The home is lovely and I go along to visit one of the other residents who has not got any relatives.
“I wasn’t going to let a bit of rain put me off taking part today. I’m waterproof and I’ve walked a mile to get here already.”
Another of the walkers last Saturday was Chichester resident Sophie Harding, 22. She was walking for her nan, Val Terry, 79, who has lived at the home for a month after she was diagnosed last February.
“My nan would be proud of me, “said Sophie. “I have Asperger’s syndrome and she would be proud of me because it’s raining and this has got me out of my house.” Sophie said the diagnosis of dementia had changed her family’s lives.
“I can’t have normal conversations with her. She doesn’t know what is going on. She has almost gone back to being a child, with her soft toys.”
She was joined by her mum, Yvonne May, 51, her younger sister, Charlotte Harding, 16, and Val’s husband of 61 years, John Terry, 84, of Selsey.
John said: “My wife has disappeared. That’s the worst part of what has happened. She has got somebody looking after her but I have got nobody.”
Elizabeth House support worker Danielle Andrews, 23, of Bognor Regis, was also among the walkers.
“This is my weekend off but I wanted to dedicate it to taking part in this walk,” she said. “I have the privilege of caring for people with dementia and trying to make their lives better. It’s our job to keep them going.
“I know this is a big thing to say but, for me, having dementia is worse than cancer because there is no cure for it.”
Elizabeth House resident Lizzie Pollington, 83, joined the walkers as well. She said: “I’m looking forward to the walk. I’m not worried about the weather.”
Another resident, Ian Goord, 91, has lived at the home in Victoria Drive for about a year. The dark grey and heavy rain failed to dampen spirits as the walkers set off from Hotham Park’s bandstand with the music from the Bamboo Band to get them on their way.
Mandy said: “We have had a lot of support for the walk. It’s a real shame the weather is so bad.” Cllr Pat Dillon, Bognor Regis’ town mayor, appeared at the event to thank the walkers alongside representatives from the Dementia Friends programme designed to change perceptions.
Elizabeth House in Victoria Drive is the largest home in the area devoted to the care of elderly residents with dementia. it is a modern purpose designed home with 60 single en-suite bedrooms set in six separate self-contained living areas.