Families put their best foot forward for Barrow's first Alzheimer's Memory Walk
EMOTIONS ran high on a chilly September morning as dozens of people prepared to march through Barrow Park in memory of those who fought against an uncompromising illness.
The town's first Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk took place on Saturday (September 30) organised by local student Emma Borwick.
Miss Borwick, 22, had in a short space of time galvanised members of the community to turn out and show their support and raise money for dementia awareness.
Thousands of people and their families in Cumbria live with dementia. As understanding about the disease grows the more people begin to realise the awful toll it takes on family members who often see a loved one fade away before their very eyes.
Glynis Murray, 65, of Highlands Avenue, Barrow, told a story all too familiar to those walking at the weekend.
She said: "I lost my mother in April. We nursed her for four years. We cared for her 24 hours a day, we did that until a fortnight before she died.
"She was a real lady and we never lost that gentle lady that she was."
Mrs Murray said people don't realise how difficult the diagnosis of a loved one with dementia can be on a family.
She continued: "My sister and I took turns to take care of her, but towards the end she would forget what she was saying and ask the same thing within a minute.
"She didn't know she was any different. It's a hard thing for the carers."
The event in Barrow Park was a whirlwind affair. Determined to make a difference any way she could Miss Borwick arranged the entire event within the space of a few months.
Memory Walks are held year round to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society. They allow families affected by the disease to meet, socialise, and raise money for a good cause.
A cake sale and raffle were put on with donated prizes from local businesses, and the Barrow branch of the Co-op donated bottles of water for those arriving at the finish line.
Miss Borwick was happy to see the Memory Walk had resonated with so many people in town.
Speaking at the start line of the 5km walk, she said: "There are only about six people here that I know. There are some new people here.
"People on Facebook have contacted me saying they have raised £150 to £200. That's just from sponsorship alone."
Here are the walkers setting off for the 5km walk through Barrow Park. pic.twitter.com/SL1K4ferux— Jonathan Rees (@jreesNWEM) October 2, 2017
Just one of the people taking part in the Memory Walk was Rachel Mathieson, 41, of Chester Street, Barrow.
She was walking for her dad Brian Salisbury and her uncle Frank who both died of vascular dementia.
Ms Mathieson said: "Everybody here has a common interest. People here have been caring for somebody with dementia.
"It's horrendous seeing someone's demise before your eyes. There is nothing to do to stop it. The person that suffers from the illness isn't aware of how ill they are. They don't see it."
At the time of writing Miss Borwick had raised more than £1,300 in sponsorship money as well as £360 through a Just Giving page.
If you would like to donate to Miss Borwick's cause please click here.
A roadshow highlighting the importance of dementia awareness will soon be visiting our area.
For three days from Wednesday October 4 to Friday October 6 the Dementia Community Roadshow will take up residency in Barrow Town Hall, in Duke Street.
People will have the opportunity to put their questions to Alzheimer's Society experts and find out more about dementia.
The pioneering national tour aims to increase local awareness and understanding of the condition which affects around 8,000 in Cumbria, almost 1,000 of them from Barrow.
The roadshow will be staffed between 10am and 4pm on all three days and will offer free information and advice to anyone with queries about the condition, as well as helping to promote the benefits of an early diagnosis.
It is also open to people currently living with dementia, who are worried about a friend or relative’s memory or who just have questions about the condition. No appointment is needed.