Alzheimer's Society has thanked a Bridlington woman who has helped to shape vital dementia research.
More than 300 people from across the UK with experience of dementia make up the Alzheimer’s Society Research Network, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.
The Network consists of people living with dementia, carers and former carers, who help ensure that the charity funds the best quality and most relevant research.
These ‘experts by experience’ support Alzheimer’s Society to invest in meaningful research by reviewing funding applications, as well as monitoring and supporting projects.
Viv, who joined the Research Network 20 years ago when it was first established, said: "Although my Mum in Law died in 2004, from what was later diagnosed as Vascular Dementia, I feel that the Alzheimer’s Society has enabled us to give support and hope for those still battling the disease, whilst keeping the memory of our loved ones alive in a positive way."
Speaking about how she joined the group, the 75-year-old added: "I was working at the time and also doing a part-time MA when my Mum in law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
"I became ill and had to give up my MA to start caring for her and I was lucky to find out that the Alzheimer’s Society were proposing a new consumer led project to combine those people with dementia and their carers with research into finding the cause, care and cure for this disease.
"I felt like a hand had been offered to me, to do something positive about this disease and to give me consolation for giving up the research I was doing.
"There are so many things I enjoy about the role of a Network Researcher, almost too numerous to mention. I love the research and became a monitor as the role involved going to different Universities and observing the research being carried out until it’s completion.
"I have met so many wonderful people and gained some very close friendships. I’m part of a group of Research Network Monitors who have a WhatsApp chat group, we call ourselves the Alzheimer’s gang! We are all very supportive of each other and have become close friends."
Alzheimer’s Society hopes this important milestone will inspire others to sign up and help ensure research into the cause, cure, care and prevention of dementia makes a difference to people affected by the condition.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Our Research Network volunteers have worked tirelessly for two decades to ensure the knowledge and experiences of people affected by dementia are at the heart of the research agenda.
“On behalf of everyone at Alzheimer’s Society we’d like to thank them for all their dedication and passion over the last 20 years – dementia research would not have made the progress it has today without them.
“Research will beat dementia, but we need more funding to find a cure. However, it’s not all about a cure – we also need to research cause, care and prevention. We owe it to the 67,000 people in Yorkshire and the Humber currently living with dementia to understand the condition better, so that they can live better.
“Our Research Network volunteers are at the forefront of making sure the £150 million we invest in dementia research over the next decade will have the biggest impact.”
Anyone living with dementia or who has experience of caring for a family member with dementia can apply to join the Network.
Volunteers do not need to have an academic or research background and the role can be undertaken from home, or even shared between two people.
For more information and to sign up to the Network, visit alzheimers.org.uk/researchnetwork