In December 2015 my father in law Bill Mansfield, aged just 72, lost his battle against dementia. This disease not only destroyed a larger than life character with a heart of pure gold, but put his family through the most painful and upsetting time of their lives.
Unfortunately, as with many mental illnesses, a stigma remains around dementia but this disease isn't just a case of forgetting where you put your keys or missing a dental appointment.
In some cases, as was the case with Bill, it ravages your body leaving you as a shadow of what you used to be. It destroys your dignity and pride and leaves your family as helpless spectators, unable to stop the nightmare unfolding before their eyes.
For someone who was so physically fit, who trained every day and at one point in his life took up running half marathons, the physical damage caused by dementia was just as devastating as the mental aspect.
In his prime Bill was around 16st (approx 100kg) of muscle (as you can see from the pics), when he passed away he weighed less than 7st (44kg) and I hope that this jump will bring more awareness to the physical impact as well as the mental.
Since his diagnosis, as a family, we've completed several challenges to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society including a 'Memory Hop - http://www.wharfedaleobserver.co.uk/news/10657376.Evie_tackles_Harewood_House_memory_walk_with_a_spring_in_her_step/#gallery0 with former Sky Sports News presenter Charlie Webster, and a 3 legged Memory Walk to highlight the fact dementia affects 1 in 3 people!!
I'm now taking on the next challenge, on Saturday 4th August I'll be doing a skydive from 10,000 feet above the east coast!
A giant leap for me to hopefully provide a giant leap towards finding a cure for dementia.
There's still a stigma where mental health is concerned and I'm hoping that activities like this will bring more awareness about the condition to get people talking about dementia and remove the ignorance surrounding it.
I'm BEGGING for your help to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society in the hope that soon those incredibly clever people in white coats can find a cure and that there's hope for people like my uncle who's recently been diagnosed aged just 55!
Remember 1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by dementia, look around you and let's hope it's not someone close to you. Help me, help Alzheimer's Society find a cure.
Thank you. X