Rowing is Quay to Good Life

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Improvement Fellow and ‘Haelo Hero’ Dario Rydel shares his experience of taking part in Age UK Salford’s Good Life Festival, for Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awareness Week 2017 by rowing for Dementia.

As a man who hasn’t taken part in competitive sports since high school, the thought of getting into a boat and racing against other people was the perfect way to spend a weekend and raise money as part of Dementia Awareness Week.

With me were seven of my bravest colleagues and friends from Haelo; all strangers to the majority of water sports outside of swimming.

So, what possessed us to do this? Charity work is close to my heart and I struggle to think of any time that I haven’t been involved in one capacity or another. Alongside this, there was also a deeply personal connection to the cause.

As a doctor in our health service, I’ve seen first-hand, on countless occasions, the huge impact a dementia diagnosis can cause. At home, my grandad lived with dementia before he sadly passed away. I remember how dementia changed him, especially when he started to forget the people closest to him. Somehow though, he always remembered me and my brother when he saw us, which comforted and sheltered us somewhat from the whole experience. I looked at my Mum and Grandma and saw how much love and effort they had to put in to make sure that he continued to live a healthy, happy life and ensured his wellbeing; mostly at the cost of their own. That’s why events like this are so important to know what support is available to you and your family.

In Salford, according to the Alzheimer’s Society there were 2,000 people newly diagnosed with Dementia in the past year; in Greater Manchester, it’s around 30,000. When looking at the UK as a whole via NHS England, this number jumps to 850,000; and, alongside their carers and those closest to them, that’s a whole lot of people who are affected by dementia right now, who all need our help, care and support.

These were the people in my thoughts as I said goodbye to my fiancé that morning and made my way to the Quays (there was no way he was going to miss out on sleep on a Saturday!).

You should definitely watch the highlights and see for yourself! In a nutshell, it was an extraordinary day.

And the rain certainly didn’t dampen spirits! The Good Life Festival, organised by Age UK Salford, was a family fun awareness event raining funds and awareness of the services available in Salford to help people and families live well with Dementia. Seeing the support from the local community coming together is always incredible and they didn’t let themselves down this time either!

In case you were wondering, Haelo green shirts managed to come a very respectable second place in the races; leading to both a medal and trophy for the first time for me in my extremely brief competitive sports history!

For information on how you can get involved with supporting dementia in the community you can visit Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK Salford.

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