A SUNDERLAND-born man has been hailed an inspiration for facing a devastating diagnosis head on.
Ray Kirton is refusing to let Alzheimer’s get in his way since being told he had the illness three years ago.
The 55-year-old, who grew up in East Herrington, had to give up a high-flying business job to cope with the brain condition.
But despite that, he continues to lead as full and active a life as possible and is now taking on the Three Peaks Challenge in Yorkshire tomorrow, to fund-raise for the Alzheimer’s Society.
“I can say it with all honesty that I’m comfortable with where I am and how things are with my dementia,” said Ray who went to Southmoor School.
“I’ve got Alzheimer’s. That’s it. At some stage it will change but I’ve got nothing to worry about.
“It’s obviously not what I wanted but my wife, Kiran, has made sure we’ve gone to a lot of nice places and we’ll continue with that.”
Ray, who now lives in Northumberland, added: “I suppose it’s easy for me to say this, but I suppose a lot of people get dementia who don’t have what we have. I’ll always be as positive as possible.
“I count myself lucky in spite of having Alzheimer’s. It won’t stop me living life to the full.”
Ray will taking on the gruelling charity challenge alongside brother Barry, 59, from Cleadon Village.
The brothers, along with a small group of relatives and friends, will tackle Pen-y-Ghent (694m), Whernside (736m) and Ingleborough (723m), all in one day.
“Ray has amazed me – he’s inspirational,” said Barry, who went to Thornhill School. “He’s never felt sorry for himself since Alzheimer’s was diagnosed.
“Since day one, it’s been a case of ‘I’ve got it but life goes on’. Ray’s still the same brother I had before the dementia diagnosis and we still do the same things.
“The strange thing about this illness is that we can chat about days gone by and the detail Ray remembers is phenomenal.”
To sponsor them, go to www.justgiving.com/Barry-Kirton.