Simon Purnell

Having seen a little of what both my Mamgu (grandmother in Welsh) lived through with dementia and what my Mum dealt with when she came to live with us in looking after her nearly 30 years ago now, the work Alzheimer's Support do in helping those affected and their families is absolutely invaluable.

My Mamgu Ruby Morgan was a wonderful, strong, independent and resilient woman who had faced many challenges in her life. She had emigrated with her family to America as a small child only to lose her mother and had to return to South Wales after just a couple of years. She went down to London to serve as a nurse for the duration of the Second World War, seeing that as a duty to fulfil with no fuss before returning to the mining valleys of South Wales and the challenges that region suffered as the industry went into decline and social and economic depression hit very hard. But she, along with my Dadcu (Grandfather – who suffered the after-effects of coal dust inhalation from work as a miner), always made it a joy and adventure to visit them for school holidays. They (along with my Mum and the rest of the extended family in Wales) instilled in me my pride in being Welsh (if “only” 50%!).

It is only now with hindsight can I get an inkling of how bewildered, frustrated, frightened she must have been in losing that independence and the connection with everything she held so dear, and how tough it must have been for my Mum seeing her mother suffering while she worked through how best to look after her at a time when the condition was nowhere near so well understood and the provision of specialist advice and care terribly under-developed.

In comparison this bike ride presents no challenge to me, but does give me the opportunity to highlight the wonderful and utterly precious work Alzheimer’s Support does now for families like ours, and hopefully get a few people to donate so that they can continue to provide the service and help that they do.

Thank you.

Simon Purnell