East Dunbartonshire Memory Walk supports local families

Family day out...Paul and Pat Sheridan took part in the first East Dunbartonshire Memory Walk four years ago, with their grandaughters Ruby and Lola.
Family day out...Paul and Pat Sheridan took part in the first East Dunbartonshire Memory Walk four years ago, with their grandaughters Ruby and Lola.

Four years ago, Pat and Paul Sheridan from Bearsden took part in the first Memory Walk in East Dunbartonshire.

At that time, former college lecturer Paul had yet to be diagnosed.

But the couple had their suspicions and were already receiving support from Alzheimer Scotland.

Within a couple of months of the walk, though, Paul was officially diagnosed with vascular dementia.

And the Sheridans were supported through that diagnosis by Angi Inch, the charity’s local dementia advisor.

Angi and Paul struck up a great friendship, a bond which only strengthened when she helped Paul with his advance directive.

That meant on December 27, 2017, when Paul (76) sadly died, Pat and the couple’s four daughters and seven grandchildren knew exactly what his wishes were.

Pat (73) said: “As soon as we got the diagnosis, Angi came round and spoke to us about it – she was fantastic.

“She and Paul just clicked and he always looked forward to her popping in for a coffee and a chat.

“He did his advance directive with Angi so we knew what he wanted in terms of end of life care.

“That really helped take the pressure off the family as we knew what Paul wanted.”

During their journey in the last four years, Pat and Paul were supported every step of the way by Alzheimer Scotland.

The couple first attended the dementia cafe, then Paul became more involved by attending the local football reminiscence group and the walking football project.

Sadly, he broke his arm and had to stop attending walking football.

However, Pat remains grateful for the charity’s support which was a tower of strength to 
them both.

“Even before we got the diagnosis, we knew there was something badly wrong,” she said. “But we were able to call Alzheimer Scotland for advice. We were frustrated with the situation but the advisors were very reassuring and it helped.

“So Paul and I took part in the first Memory Walk in East Dunbartonshire as a thank you to them, along with two of our grandchildren, Ruby and Lola (13-year-old twins).

“It was a really nice day and the children enjoyed doing it with us.

“When Paul was officially diagnosed, we started going to the local dementia cafe.

“When Paul was with other people who had dementia, you could see him really relax.

“It seemed to take the pressure off a wee bit.

“He could communicate, almost until the end, so people thought he was okay. He always put on a good face.

“But when we were out with friends, he really had to concentrate hard on the conversation and it tired him out quite a bit.

“When he was at the dementia cafe, he didn’t have to worry and you could really see the difference. He truly did relax then.”

The couple’s daughter Clare (46) ran the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon on May 6 this year, raising £2340 for Alzheimer Scotland.

Explanining why, she said: “From the day dad was diagnosed, he and mum received support and help from the wonderful staff and volunteers at Alzheimer Scotland.

“Dad was a life long rugby player, coach and supporter but he was able to take up walking football at the age of 74. He hadn’t played since he was a wee boy but he loved it.

“The group let us and dad remember the competitive sportsman he was in his day.

“Dementia might have been taking his brain but walking football showed us it couldn’t dampen his spirit.

“One day his competitive spirit took over, he started running and sadly fell.

“He couldn’t play again but he did enjoy football reminiscence sessions, complete with his pie and bovril at half time!

“These groups are so valuable for patients and their families but they need volunteers and money to help keep them going, which is why I did the Flying Pig.”

Clare and her two children are returning to the UK next month for good.

Pat, her four daughters and seven grandchildren all plan to do a Memory Walk in Paul’s honour.

But she has yet to decide where her walk will be.

She added: “With Clare coming home, I don’t think we’ll manage to take part in the East Dunbartonshire event but we’re hoping to make the Kelvingrove one.

“We’ll all be walking in memory of Paul, though, and as a thank you to Alzheimer Scotland for all the advice and support we received from it as a family.”

Memory Walk at Mugdock

Whether you stride, stroll or toddle, the Memory Walk is perfect for all ages and abilities.

The East Dunbartonshire event takes place at Mugdock Country Park in Milngavie on Saturday, September 1.

Registration for the 2K and 5K walks opens at 11am, with walks kicking off at noon.

While online registration is now closed, registration is available on the day priced £15 for adults, £5 for those aged 12 to 16 and free for under 12s.

The route is wheelchair, buggy and dog-friendly, so there’s no reason why the entire family can’t make the event the perfect day out.

There are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and it is now estimated that 20,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition every year by 2020. Henry Simmons, Alzheimer Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Our Memory Walks are a great way for people in Scotland to come together to help us raise awareness about dementia and vital funds to support people living with the condition in our local communities.

“Every penny raised will go towards our goal – making sure that no-one faces dementia alone.

“Our local resource hubs across Scotland are committed to providing the best possible care,support and information for everyone living with dementia.

“They also work to ensure people with dementia and their carers are recognised and valued in their local communities.

“Every step you take will help us make a difference.”

So grab your boots and help Alzheimer Scotland make sure no-one faces dementia alone.

For more information and to sign up today visit www.memorywalksscotland.org.