Dedicated son aims to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s Society research

Neville Ramsay after the Sunderland City 10k
Neville Ramsay after the Sunderland City 10k
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A son who lost his beloved mum to Alzheimer’s is helping to fund research into the devastating disease.

Neville Ramsay says he only realised just how debilitating Alzheimer’s can be after mum Edith was diagnosed when she was 85.

Edith Ramsay

Edith Ramsay

The mum-of-14, who lived in Carley Hill, spent the next eight years battling the progressive form of dementia until her death last November, aged 93.

Now Neville, 52, has thrown himself into taking on sponsored runs to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.

So far he’s competed in this year’s Sunderland City 10k and is in training for the Great North Run in September, along with nephew Aaron Sproat, 30. He’s also awaiting a place in the next London Marathon.

Neville, who lives in the city centre, said: “In January I couldn’t run ten yards and now I run 12 mile runs twice a week with short runs in between.”

Neville and nephew Aaron

Neville and nephew Aaron

The successful hairdresser said exercise has helped him to cope with the grief of losing his mother who he helped nurse in her final years.

Speaking about the onset of symptoms, he said: “At first it was just little things she’d forget like where she’d put her keys, but we all forget things like that.

“But then things started happening, like she’d have a bruise on her face and she wouldn’t remember how she’d got it. The Alzheimer’s was making her wobbly on her feet and she was falling but not remembering that she had.”

Edith was soon diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which came as a shock to her family.

Neville and his beloved mum Edith

Neville and his beloved mum Edith

“I’d heard of Alzheimer’s but didn’t really know what it was,” said Neville, “I think it was the way it affected her physically that was the worst thing to deal with. Some days she was really sharp, and she knew what was going on and other days she wasn’t. But the physical side affected her every day. She had always been such a glamorous lady: she loved to bleach her hair and wear a fur coat.

“She was like Marilyn Monroe when I was growing up, but to go from that to the way she was was hard to see. But she always had a smile on her face until the end.”

He added: “I also never realised how many young people it affected. My mam was looked after by two great carers, as well as her family, at her home. But she would also visit Glenholme Care Home in Roker for a day where there were people a lot younger than my mam who were suffering. It’s a disease which is affecting more and more people every year and more research needs to be done.”

•To sponsor Neville visit

Five things you should know about dementia

1. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing

We all forget a name or a face sometimes. Especially as we get older. But dementia is something different. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it doesn’t just affect older people. Over 40,000 people under 65 in the UK have dementia.

2. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain

Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease cause nerve cells to die, damaging the structure and chemistry of the brain. There are lots of other causes and no two types of dementia are the same. In different types of dementia there is damage to different parts of the brain.

3. It’s not just about losing your memory

When most people hear the word dementia, they think of memory loss. And it does often start by affecting the short-term memory. Someone with dementia might repeat themselves and have problems recalling things that happened recently. But dementia can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave.

4. People can still live well with dementia

Although there is no cure for dementia, scientists and researchers are working hard to find one. Until that day comes, support and treatments are available that can help with symptoms and managing daily life. These can allow people with dementia to lead active, purposeful lives and carry on doing the things that matter to them most.

5. Alzheimer’s Society is here for anyone affected by dementia

Call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 11 22 if you’d like to talk to someone for information, support or advice