BLG Mind’s Young Onset Dementia Activists group (YODA) have raised more than £4,000 for the “life-changing” service.
Members of the group, which is part of Bromley MindCare dementia support, hoped to raise £2,500 by taking on a 5km trek around Beckenham Place Park in Bromley, but at the time of writing donations had soared past £4,000.
The money will go towards developing the service and helping it expand to reach additional local people who have been diagnosed with the disease and are feeling isolated.
The group enjoyed some high profile support in the form of acclaimed writer, producer and actor Mark Gatiss, who is the first cousin of one of its members, Sue. Mark, who recently attended an event for the group at London’s Langham Hotel, wished the group good luck in a video message from the Cotswolds.
In addition to the group’s own fundraising drive, Gregory Wellman, who lives in Essex but grew up in Beckenham where the YODA service is located, ran the virtual London Marathon last Sunday in support of the cause.
On his fundraising page, Gregory explained he was running to raise funds for 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.”
Speaking about 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 and for some it was the first time in years they had walked so far. It was truly inspirational. Let’s keep those donations coming in and double our original target and reach £5k!”
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 YODA’s, 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, in Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich.
If you would like to make a donation to help the service reach more local people, please visit the YODA Virgin Money Giving page.
A few photographs from the YODA sponsored walk.