User menu

Celebrities urge public to unite against dementia – as it’s set to be 21st century’s biggest killer

Alzheimer's Society launches new United Against Dementia campaign.

We’re calling on the public to set aside their differences - from age to tastes and social standing to political allegiances - and unite in the fight against dementia, as it’s set to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.

Celebrities and sports stars including Jo Brand, James Cracknell, Meera Syal, Robbie Savage and Uriah Rennie are backing the biggest ever campaign from Alzheimer's Society calling on people to come together to defeat dementia. The campaign is also being supported by Richard & Judy, Carey Mulligan, Hugh Dennis and Sally Lindsay.

The charity will launch the campaign today with a TV advertisement voiced by acclaimed actor Bill Nighy at its heart, airing tonight from 20:55 BST. 

The ad, directed by Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Daniel Barber (Harry Brown, The Tonto Woman) and set to an original score by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, plays upon issues that can cause divisions in society including age, gender identity and whether people voted in or out in the recent EU referudum. It shows opposing pairs coming together to unite against dementia.

In support of the campaign, two of the UK’s biggest commercial TV channels ITV and Channel 4 will be uniting to premiere the campaign ad – the first time the two have worked together on an advertising premiere for a charity.

Someone develops dementia every three minutes and there’s currently no cure – but the charity says people with dementia tell them that they face dementia alone.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive, Alzheimer’s Society said:

'We’re determined to bring everyone’s attention to the massive injustice faced by people with dementia and their carers, with too many denied the support they need.'

'Alzheimer’s Society hears day in, day out about people with dementia and their carers struggling. Some people tell us about the impossible choices they have to make, from the carer having to choose between a knee operation and caring for her Mum, to a man with young onset dementia who had to give-up work and ask his daughter to pay the mortgage.'

'We urgently need people to unite with us to improve care, offer help and understanding to those affected and find a cure. Together, we can bring about change.'

Ex-Wales international footballer Robbie Savage lost his dad, Colin, to younger onset dementia – which affects more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 - when he was only 64, after being diagnosed at 58. 

Robbie added:

'People think dementia is an old person’s condition but it isn’t. My dad was struck down in his prime. Dementia can affect anyone anywhere.'

'It was so painful to witness my hero and best friend gradually slip away. In the end he couldn’t speak, swallow or recognise me at all. To see him like that was devastating for the whole family. That’s why it’s so important for me to get involved with this campaign.'

Family carers are also buckling under the pressure.

Kim Davies, 52, from Portsmouth, is a full time carer to husband Rob, who has Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed at just 51, after displaying symptoms of memory loss since he was 48.

Kim said:

'We lost everything. I help him out of bed, he puts his clothes on back to front, I give him medications, make him a cup of tea, get him in the shower. I try to preserve his dignity. I put toothpaste on the toothbrush for him. I put clean clothes on him. I also have to care for my mum. But it’s not all doom and gloom, we still laugh a lot.'

'Alzheimer’s Society is a fantastic lifeline for thousands of people like me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Everyone else deserted us.'

An emotional Rob added:

'I know I’ve got Alzheimer’s, what can I do, I can’t do anything, it’s hard, scary.'

Research conducted by the charity and Ipsos MORI reveals a great deal of fear exists around dementia – just under half (44%) of people fear dementia more than any other health condition. It also reveals a deeply concerning lack of public understanding about the biggest health crisis facing society. Only a fifth (22%) of people* know that dementia is a condition that results in death while 28% wrongly believe there is a cure*.

Because public understanding is so poor, people with dementia tell Alzheimer’s Society that they often feel – and are – misunderstood, marginalised and isolated.

Jo Brand, ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society told us: 

'It’s deeply worrying that every three minutes someone develops this devastating condition. What’s almost as worrying is despite not being able to prevent it, cure it or even slow it down, the funding of dementia research is far too low. We need everyone to unite against dementia and change this now.'

James Cracknell, who is joining forces with Jo Brand to support the campaign, added:

'It’s now time for us to come together and unite against dementia with Alzheimer’s Society. We owe it to our children…this is important!'

Alzheimer’s Society is the leading dementia charity and is here for everyone affected dementia. The campaign kicks off their drive to change the landscape of dementia forever, reaching every single person affected by the condition to offer help and support. 

The charity is urging everyone to come together and unite against dementia. There are many ways you can get involved – whether it’s becoming a Dementia Friend, campaigning or donating to fund research for a cure. Unite now at alzheimers.org.uk