Young Onset Dementia Activists raise over £5,000 for group

BLG Mind’s Young Onset Dementia Activists (YODA) have raised over £5,000 for the “life-changing” service.

Members of the group, which is part of Bromley MindCare dementia support, aimed to raise £2,500 by trekking 5km around Beckenham Place Park in Bromley, but donations poured in, taking the total to a fantastic £5,162.

The money will go towards developing the group and helping it expand to reach more local people who feel isolated after being diagnosed with young onset dementia.

The YODAs enjoyed some high profile support in the form of acclaimed actor and writer Mark Gatiss, who is the first cousin of one of its members, Sue. Mark, who recently attended an YODA event at London’s Langham Hotel, wished the group good luck in a video message from the Cotswolds.

In addition to the YODAs’ own fundraising drive, Gregory Wellman, who lives in Essex but grew up in Beckenham where the service is located, ran the virtual London Marathon in October to raise money for the cause.

On his fundraising page, Gregory explained he was running to support YODA because the group is having a “huge impact” on the lives of local people with the disease.

He continued: “I know the impact on these individuals who are part of the group is life-changing, moving from a mindset of worry and feeling estranged to having purpose and living their best life in spite of any diagnosis.”

Describing the walk, Bromley Dementia Services Manager Saira Addison said: “It was an amazing day! The atmosphere was electric; so many people, children and pets came along to support the YODAs.

“It was a challenge but everyone made it. For some it was the first time in years they had walked so far. It was truly inspirational.”

She added: “I’d like to say a big thank you to Lucy, Lewin and Donovan from the Homestead Cafe for the free teas and coffees; the staff at Kitchen in West Wickham, who gave us 10% off the bill; and to Lindsey, the daughter of Kevin, one of our YODAs, who paid for the whole meal for everyone.”

YODA group member Beverley said: “I’m so proud of the determination of those who did not think they could walk that far.”

Young onset dementia is defined as dementia diagnosed in people under the age of 65. YODA is open to anyone living with the condition, and their carers and families, in Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich.

A few snaps from the YODA sponsored walk.

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Find out more about the Young Onset Dementia Activists group.