A Harry Potter star lead hundreds of people for a charity event in Leamington at the weekend.
Around 700 people gathered at Victoria Park on Saturday (September 28) for the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk in Leamington.
Walkers had the option of completing a 1.5km or 5.5km route.
The walk was opened by Warwickshire actor David Bradley, star of the Harry Potter and Game of Thrones franchises.
Bradley also portrays a character with dementia in Ricky Gervais’ show After Life. In the show he plays Tony, Gervais’s dad Tony, who has dementia and lives in a care home.
Bradley’s After Life experiences gave him insight into the difficulties those living with dementia face, and the impact dementia has on families, which led him to support Alzheimer’s Society.
David addressed the crowd before the walk and then posed for dozens of photos with Harry Potter and Game of Thrones fans before heading off to watch Premier League club Aston Villa in action against Burnley.
David said: “Living in Warwickshire myself, it was humbling for to open the Leamington Memory Walk. Across Warwickshire over 7,700 people are estimated to be living with dementia and every penny raised through Memory Walk will help Alzheimer’s Society improve care, find a cure, and support people affected by dementia.
“From my own experience of portraying a character with dementia in After Life, I understand the devastating impact that dementia has not only on the person living with the condition but also their family and friends.
“And I fully understand just how important it is that we do all we can to fund research into the diseases causing dementia.
“It’s an astonishing fact that someone develops dementia every three minutes in the UK but the show of support through my local Memory Walk demonstrates there is hope for the future and so that’s why I’d urge people to sign up to Memory Walktoday at memorywalk.org.uk"
Also amongst the walkers was Anne-Marie, from Warwick, who took part in her first ever Memory Walk with five-year-old son Fraser. Anne-Marie walked in support of her grandma Anne Maslen-Jones, age 87, who is currently living with vascular dementia.
Anne currently lives in Adelaide House care home, adjacent to Victoria Park and so, supported by daughter Liz was able to come to the park and see Anne-Marie and Fraser cross the finish line, in a touching moment for all the family.
Anne-Marie Holmes said: “I grew up with my grandma telling me that, every year, her favourite number changed as I also got another year older! She is simply an amazing women – she’s also fought cancer a few times and had to have one of her legs amputated as part of her treatment.
“We used to be so close but now she doesn’t remember my name when I go to see her. It breaks my heart but she will always be my grandma and I will always love her. My memories keep us close even if she doesn’t remember them, and it’s clear that she adores Fraser too.”
Members of the Leamington Rotary Club joined the walk in a show of support for Alzheimer’s Society.
Rotary Club member David Greenwood said:“One of our members has developed Alzheimer’s and so we wanted to be more dementia-friendly and to help in a practical way and so Memory Walk seemed to be the perfect way for us to raise money for research and raise awareness. It’s a very important cause.”
Charlotte Bradbury, whose six year-old daughter Oona raised £400 for the Memory Walk campaign, said: “We lost our nana in May to dementia and Oona wanted to raise as much money as she could so people stop having to go through what we’ve been going through. We’re very proud of Oona – she raised money at school and she even put her tooth fairy money which shows how much this means to her.”
To find out more about the remaining walks and Your Walk, Your Way, go to memorywalk.org.uk