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by Alastair Symondson Thursday 7 May 2020
His appointment comes at a time where people with dementia, 95% of whom are over 65 and mainly reliant on social care, are at significant risk and cut off from the outside world because of the current coronavirus crisis.
The social care system, already at breaking point, has been further impacted by a reduction in care workers, as well as care homes having to close their doors to visitors.
The need for Alzheimer’s Society’s services has never been more urgent. Around 80% of calls to its Dementia Connect support line are about coronavirus issues and in March alone,nearly 3,300 calls were made*.There’s been an increase of 600% in people joining the charity’s online community Talking Point in the last two weeks and around 100 more posts made per day.
The charity’s Emergency Appeal will raise funds to help keep the Dementia Connect support line going and extend telephone and virtual support. People affected by dementia tell us our support line is a lifeline with thousands of people affected by dementia now having to cope with a temporary closure of face-to-face services and self-isolation.
I caught up with Richard, in a recent telephone conversation to find out why he took up the role -
After his father was diagnosed with dementia, Richard found it, in his own words – ‘an absolutely horrific experience, with no cure and no hope’. Through cricket and meeting others he decided to try and do something about assisting others suffering from this ‘horrific’ disease by firstly, personally raising sponsorship funds for the Society and then looking at taking on a bigger role.
Richard joins the Alzheimer’s Society at an opportune time, with an upcoming launch of Sports United Against Dementia, a ground-breaking campaign that will bring the sporting world together for the first time in a truly coordinated effort to tackle dementia. Thompson will chair a board of sport industry experts to build greater awareness of dementia and raise significant funds towards Alzheimer’s Society’s support services and ground-breaking research, to help transform the way sport supports people affected by dementia.
Speaking about the Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador role, Richard said: “I’m honoured to have been asked to be an official Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, which I proudly accept during an incredibly difficult time for people affected by dementia. I am putting my full support behind Alzheimer’s Society’s Emergency Appeal and will continue supporting the charity’s Sport United Against Dementia campaign in my role as Chairman. This campaign will harness the positive power and incredible reach of sport – from football to cricket, rugby to horse racing – to deliver meaningful change for all those sporting communities so impacted by this cruel and incurable disease.”
With the number of people living with dementia across the UK set to rise to one million by 2025, as well as backing Alzheimer’s Society’s Emergency Appeal, Richard will help challenge perceptions, power research breakthroughs and improve and provide care and support for the 850,000 people living with dementia.
Welcoming Richard as a new ambassador, Kate Lee, CEO at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “People affected by dementia are finding things tough at the moment and our services have never been in more urgent need. We are hearing daily from families struggling to explain what’s going on and carers unable to visit vulnerable people in person. With Richard’s support we can make sure that we are there for everyone affected by the condition and can help provide much-needed information and support. Alzheimer’s Society is determined to put a virtual arm around everyone affected by dementia in these challenging times, but we can’t do this without urgent donations.”
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line 0333 150 3456 provides information and practical measures for people affected by dementia around the coronavirus and directs people towards other reliable sources. For up to date information, our services and practical measures we can all take to protect people with dementia during the coronavirus crisis, please visit alzheimers.org.uk
Richard Thompson founded talent management agency Merlin Elite in 2003, which was later part-sold to M&C Saatchi in 2013 and he remains Chairman and Chief Executive and has a client list that includes Sir Bradley Wiggins CBE, Harry Redknapp and Jermaine Jenas. He is also a non-executive chairman of Surrey County Cricket Club, and a director of the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Many thanks to Harriet Southwood, from the Alzheimer’s Society, and Richard Thompson, in the production of this article.
To support Alzheimer’s Society’s Emergency Appeal, please visit alzheimers.org.uk/emergency
©Cricket World 2020