Sophia Khan, 28 from Streatham joined more than 3,000 people to unite against dementia at the first London night walk at the weekend.
She was walking with friends Rochelle Brainerd, 30, and Amisha Mehta, 28, to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society research and services. The event took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.
Sophia, whose dad has dementia, said: “The volunteers have been really helpful and the atmosphere is so special. It’s moving to see everyone walking with the names of loved ones on their backs and the park looks fantastic with all the lights. The fact it’s taken place at night makes it feel really magical.”
Sophia’s friend Rochelle, whose dad also has dementia, said: “We are here because we want to raise money for dementia research and services.
“Both mine and Sophia’s dads have dementia so it’s a cause that is very close to our hearts.
“Amisha and I are also doctors so work with patients living with dementia on a daily basis.
“It’s great to have an event like this where we can come out and have fun while raising money for an amazing charity.”
John Altman, who is best known for his role as ‘Nasty’ Nick Cotton in EastEnders, cut the ribbon to start the walk.
John said: “I’ve done Memory Walks before but it’s great to be here at the first ever night walk in London.
“It’s a cause I’ve supported for many years now. My father lived with Alzheimer’s towards the end of his life and my late mother was also affected by the condition.
“A dear friend of mine who I was in a band with also developed dementia with Lewy bodies before his death a few years ago.
“He was just a couple of years younger than me and it was really upsetting to see him slip away at such a young age.
“Memory Walk seems to grow every time I come along and it’s brilliant to see the carnival spirit here at the first night walk. I’ve seen people with fairy lights, glow sticks and all kinds of things.”
Jayde Greene, 27, was also at the walk.
The mother-of-one was told she has a rare gene mutation which means she can expect to begin developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s by her early 40s.
Jayde said: “I’m here with my partner Michael, my sister-in-law Amy and my son Freddy. The atmosphere is just brilliant. I didn’t expect it to be so big and for so many people to turn up.
“When I first got here it did feel really emotional seeing so many people in their blue t-shirts. It’s a quite overwhelming to see everyone uniting for one cause. I’m so glad we came along.”
Rachel Rogers, Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk Officer, said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. I am so glad that people from across London stepped out in their thousands to improve the lives of people living with the condition.
“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.
“We are committed to spending at least £150million over the next decade on dementia research to improve care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make our first ever night Memory Walk such a huge success.”
For further information about Alzheimer’s Society including details about local services visit www.alzheimers.org.uk
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