Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson is urging the Northern Ireland public to help raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society after he received a dementia diagnosis 18 months ago.
The cult TV icon (83), is asking fans of the classic science fiction series to back his son Jamie in his quest to complete three Memory Walk marathons, including one along the Co Antrim Causeway coastal route on September 1.
The £5,000 Jamie (27) hopes to raise will go toward supporting the 800,000 people across the UK currently living with dementia.
Gerry first noticed something was wrong when he was driving to Pinewood Studios in London and it took him six hours to get there instead of the one.
He said he was upset when he found out he had dementia but tries to stay positive and enjoy every day.
“I am very proud of what Jamie is doing,” Gerry said.
“I’m encouraging people to sign up for Memory Walk and help Alzheimer's Society support so many other people with my condition. There is a lot of work going on to try and find a cure and of course all this costs money.
“Thunderbirds is famous throughout the world and is still broadcast regularly, so it’s very good at getting people’s interest.”
Jamie told the Belfast Telegraph he hopes Thunderbirds fans will remember the joy his father’s creations brought them over the years and inspire them to dig deep and donate whatever cash they can to the Alzheimer’s Society,
“I have fond memories of all the conventions and seeing all the legions of fans,” Jamie said. “I am hoping this brings lots of support in dad’s quest to highlight dementia. There is no cure at the moment and in a few years time there will be one million sufferers in the UK.”
“The health care professionals have been pretty dire,” Jamie added. “Unlike some conditions, with dementia, you get the diagnosis and then off you go.
“If you want anything else you really have to push for it, which is why the Alzheimer’s Society is so important.”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society, said the charity is grateful to Gerry and Jamie for supporting Memory Walk and that by speaking out about his dementia Gerry's spreading the message that it can happen to anyone.
To find out more about the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk call 0870 417 0192 and to make a donation to Jamie’s fundraising page visit www.justgiving.com/ Gerry-Anderson-Memorywalk.
Gerry Anderson MBE created the TV series Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, UFO, Space:1999, Joe 90, Supercar and Fireball XL5. His team at AP films developed the Supermarionation puppetry technique.
Thunderbirds is about the adventures of International Rescue, a secretive organisation created to help those in grave danger using technically advanced equipment and machinery launched from its hidden Tracy Island base.