Chef Paul Rankin’s steps up for Memory Walk
Published 2 August 2012
Culinary king Paul Rankin added just the right ingredient in Belfast’s Ormeau Park to launch Alzheimer’s Society Northern Ireland Memory Walk 2012.
He delivered a spectacular cake baked for the occasion in the charity's colours and urged people to grab a slice of the action by signing up for the event at memorywalk.org.uk.
Paul, who is a regular on television with shows including Paul and Nick's Big Food Trip, and opened the first restaurant to win a Michelin Star in the Northern Ireland, knows all too well about the impact of dementia on families.
'My dad, Hugh, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago. It's a heartbreaking disease that not only affects the person diagnosed but carers and family, too.
'Memory Walk is a fantastic opportunity to raise funds to support people living with dementia and their carers in Northern Ireland and I'm delighted to support such a worthwhile cause that's close to my heart.
'Sign up to the Northern Ireland Memory Walk and join us in our fight against dementia.'
Paul, who also campaigns for improvements in the quality of food for the elderly, said the walk takes place at Ormeau Park, Belfast on Sunday 23 September where hundreds of people took part last year raising £18,000 for the vital work of the charity.
Among supporters of the event is Stephanie Meekins (23), who is a full time carer for her grandmother Susan McGrath, (78), who lives with her at the family home in Newtownards, County Down.
Susan, describing her experience, said:
'I can't remember a lot of things. I put my pyjamas on and thought I can go out now, I'm dressed. I couldn't understand why I was behaving in that way. It's very unpleasant. You couldn't imagine it. It's frightening.
'I put the dishwasher on to wash the dishes, and there are no dishes. I then open it up and say someone's taken my dishes. My mind won't accept the fact it's happening. It's horrible, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
'I was always very capable and able to do everything, now I am frightened to touch anything in case it goes wrong. I put my shoes on the wrong feet. I don't have the courage to go out. I feel trapped.
'I can't even cry, I don't believe I have any more tears.'
'Gran is a very determined lady and very good at covering up that she forgets things. She has lived in the same house for 30 years but will say she's going up the hill to her own house, even though its years since she left.
'She wants to wash clothes in the sink because that's how it was in 50s and she forgets we have washing machines. It is like part of her personality has gone. It is hard watching the person disappear in front of your eyes.
'We have had a lot of support from the Alzheimer's Society - vital information and help which has been invaluable. There is not a lot of recognition of Alzheimer's and many people don't understand.
'Alzheimer's is a taboo subject like cancer was years ago and the Memory Walk is important in raising awareness as well as funds. I hope hundreds of people will rally round and support the event.'
Alzheimer's Society Community Fundraiser Fionnuala Graham, said:
'Memory Walk is an opportunity for all the family to be involved from 8 to 80 years and more besides.
'All generations take part from mums and dads to grandchildren and grandparents, which reflects the reality that when one person has dementia there is a big impact on the whole family - it affects everyone'
More than 18,000 people across Northern Ireland are living with dementia and Alzheimer's Society provides information and vital services ranging from dementia cafes to activity groups and support services.
Memory Walk 2012 is being held in partnership with Bupa Care Homes. Together, Alzheimer's Society and Bupa aim to support more people living with dementia through the funds that are raised.
As well as being able to sign up memorywalk.org.uk people without access to a computer who would like to register for the walk, can call 028 906 64100.
The cake for the launch was provided by Creative Cakes, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast.
Alzheimer's Society is also staging a challenging 26 mile Memory Walk Marathon in Northern Ireland, passing numerous outstanding landmarks including the iconic Giant's Causeway on 1 September.
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