Dr Helen Beaumont, a research scientist at the University of Manchester, has been made a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK in recognition of her work to raise awareness of dementia.
There are currently 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, a number which continues to rise. Research into dementia and all the the diseases that cause it is vital, but drug development takes years and is expensive.
Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure, and is currently supporting pioneering dementia research projects worth nearly £34 million in leading universities across the UK.
Helen’s accolade recognises the 68-year-old’s exceptional commitment as a media volunteer for the charity, sharing her own powerful story of losing her husband to dementia and how it motivated her to change career path in her 50s.
Helen’s husband Clive was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) at the age of 46, and passed away in 1999, aged just 51.
After his death, Helen, formerly a computer programmer, relocated from her home in Oxford to Manchester to become a PhD student, focusing on using MRI scans to look for signs of FTD.
Her research showed that it is possible to identify the disease by examining the movement of water within and around the brain. Helen continues to work in research at the University of Manchester.
“When Clive died, I could easily have turned my back and walked away from the subject of dementia. But I decided something positive must come out of his awful experience,” says Helen.
“By sharing my story I hope to raise awareness to lift the stigma of dementia and stop other people going through the same feeling of isolation.”
“Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia and other dementias are physical diseases. We have a good idea of what is involved and we have good ideas about how we can interrupt that process. I am positive that is possible. I have great faith in human ingenuity.”
Helen joins a group of around 50 people who have been made Champions in recent years in recognition of their efforts in both fundraising and raising awareness on behalf of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia,” says Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“Research has the power to make breakthroughs possible and Alzheimer’s Research UK is at the forefront of these efforts.
“We rely on public donations to fund our crucial research and it’s thanks to the commitment of people like Helen that we are able to increase the profile of dementia research and continue our vital work.”