St Albans nanny takes part in dementia memory walk in honour of dad

PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 September 2018

Gemma Evans. Picture: Alzheimer's Society

Gemma Evans. Picture: Alzheimer's Society

Archant

A soldier’s daughter is taking part in a ‘memory walk’ in memory of her dad who was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 58.

Stephan Evans on tour. Picture: Alzheimer's SocietyStephan Evans on tour. Picture: Alzheimer's Society

Gemma Evans, 30, who works as a full-time nanny in St Albans, is urging as many people as possible to register to take part in this year’s Watford Memory Walk.

As well as taking part herself, Gemma, who lives in Aston Clifton, has volunteered as a helper and also walked the London Memory Walk.

She said: “It’s really important to me. My dad was left unable to write, read, speak, walk or even get dressed without help. He died with dementia four years after being diagnosed.”

Her dad Stephan Evans, a six-feet tall former sergeant who served in the Queens Dragons, experienced hallucinations due to his frontotemporal dementia.

Gemma said: “My step-mum Anita came home to find him preparing loads of food. He said ‘Don’t be rude, all these people are here to see us’. She had to go and say hello to everyone ‘eating and drinking’ in a room Dad saw as filled with people - they weren’t there, it was empty.

“He saw the dog he used to have, Bessie, under the table and thought he had to feed her, but she wasn’t there anymore.

“At one point he pushed a family member against a wall - that was never my dad, that was dementia. He would have hated himself if he had known.”

Stephan, who Gemma described as “gentle and protective of us”, died at the age of 62. Gemma said: “I remember the day a few years before when he called and said ‘I have to tell you something, I’ve got dementia’. I couldn’t process it.

“He was very calm and said: ‘I want you to understand, it’s going to be OK’. I burst into tears.”

Soraya Bowen, of the Alzheimer’s Society community fundraiser, said: “Hundreds of people have signed up for the walks, but more are needed. We rely on the support people taking part and fabulous volunteers like Gemma to make our walks happen.

“Memory Walk will help Alzheimer’s Society invest £150 million in research over the next decade and to provide information, care and support. That’s why every step matters.”

The walk takes place on Saturday, September 15, with a choice between walking 3.5km, 9km or 20km. To sign up go to memorywalk.org.uk

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