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Tracy's story: Why the Memory Walk is special to me

Tracy's story: Why the Memory Walk is special to me

Tracy Lamb - Memory Walk

My dad George was my best friend. Like me he was super chatty, full of character and energy, and was always up and at it.

He was really into his sports; he loved football, golf, squash… you name it, he’d play it.

I’ve nothing but happy memories of my childhood, from holidays to Butlins or abroad, to days out to Blackpool when he’d take me and my sister on all the rides while mum stayed back to watch the bags – standard!

He worked for Tupperware, which we lived and breathed in our house. It was always really exciting when he’d bring the latest toys home… yes, they used to make toys back then!

When dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at just 60 years of age, it was a shock to us all.

My dad became really down and lost his confidence when he was told he was unable to drive and work. It was like everything he had known had been taken from him.

I could see he needed something to bring him joy, something to get him out of the house and keep him occupied.

So that’s when I suggested he come along with me on some of the walks I led for Be Well.

Every Wednesday morning I’d pick him up and we’d head for the Plantation Gates, walking with the group from there up to Haigh Hall and stopping for coffee and cake. He loved it and it became me and my dad’s thing.

Tracy and George

I even made my dad an official Be Well volunteer, and putting on that hi-vis jacket and having that responsibility gave him a sense of purpose and belonging.

The walks were also a chance for him to socialise with the other walkers, and I could see his confidence begin to blossom again.

It was this that inspired me to start putting on ‘dementia friendly’ walks, suitable not only for those with dementia but for their carers too.

I wanted to create a safe space where people could enjoy an accessible walk that wasn’t too challenging and share their experiences, while also providing a little bit of a break for carers.

When it came to our own family, meanwhile, the Alzheimer's Society were there every step of the way.

They would regularly visit us to at home to support my mum with whatever she needed, and they also helped my dad come to terms with his diagnosis.

In those early days they sat with my him and helped him create a memory book filled with pictures and words – including everything from childhood memories, wedding photos and holiday snaps to the little moments shared with his grandchildren.

George's Memory Book

Although my dad is now gone, this memory book still lives at my mum’s and helps us remember the good times.

So I really wanted to do something to repay the Alzheimer’s Society for everything they did for us.

I also wanted to do something big in Wigan Borough to bring people together whose lives have been touched by dementia.

When I heard about the Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Memory Walks’, a series of sponsored walks held in September and October across the UK, I was really keen to bring one to Wigan. So that’s what I did!

Our very first walk was at Mesnes Park 11 years ago and since then we’ve just got bigger and better each year.

We’ve gone from one walk a year to two; and around 100 walkers at that very first event to more than 600 joining us at Haigh Woodland Park and Pennington Hall Park to celebrate our tenth anniversary in 2023.

Memory Walk ribbon cut

This year we’re taking another big step by switching our Leigh walk to the wonderful Pennington Flash!

My dad was there at the very first walk and for the two years after that before going into care. While he’s sadly no longer with us, he’s always at the forefront of my mind and remains the reason why I’m so passionate about the Memory Walk, and why I want to raise as much money as possible for Alzheimer’s Society.

These funds are crucial to support research and increase awareness, so more people can get that important early diagnosis that enables them to live a full life for as long as possible.

I’ll always remember what walking did for my dad in those years after his diagnosis and the time I was able to spend with him doing something we both loved.

So, dad…  here’s to you as we approach the 11th year of our Wigan Borough Memory Walk and once again put our best foot forward to walk for a world without dementia.

Let’s go, team!

Tracy Lamb – walks co-ordinator, Be Well

Join our Be Well Memory Walks at Pennington Flash on Sunday 9 June 2024 and Haigh Woodland Park on Sunday 22 September 2024. Find out more and register to take part at memory walk 2024.

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Posted on Tuesday 21st May 2024

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