BLACK Cats hero Richie Pitt is demanding more action to tackle dementia after it was revealed that more people than ever on Wearside have the illness.
Richie, whose dad Percy died at the age of 80 in 1989 after being hit by dementia, has called for the Government to raise its game in the fight against the degenerative brain disease.
He spoke out after new Alzheimer’s Society figures revealed that 3,444 Sunderland people have dementia and the charity insist many of those people are not living well.
Estimates suggest that there will be 850,000 people living with the condition in the UK by 2015, costing the economy £26billion a year.
“It was horrible seeing the way my dad slipped away as dementia took a grip of him and so I’ve had an insight into what more and more families across Sunderland are going through as dementia rates rise,” said Richie, a member of Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup-winnning side.
“It was awful the way it affected by dad and the memories will hurt me forever because no one deserves to be hit by dementia. When his memory started going he struggled to remember what day it was, but could vividly remember my days playing football as a schoolboy.
“He went downhill, which was so sad and that is why I feel that the Government needs to raise its game.”
The retired Seaham School of Technology teacher, 62, added: “The increase shows we need to do more to rise to the growing challenge.
“I feel very strongly about we way we face up to the challenge of dementia and that is why I want the Government to make sure that it does as much as humanly possible to make life better for people with dementia and their loved ones and put more money into funding the research that will hopefully find a cure.
“That might mean doing things more smartly rather than just throwing money at the issue.”