5,000 take part in South Shields Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk

Thousands of walkers hit the roads of South Tyneside today to help in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease

The Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk has been taking place in South Shields’ Bents Park, with people young and old coming together to walk the length of two routes.

People line up ahead of the Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk in South Shields.

People line up ahead of the Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk in South Shields.

The event was moved to South Shields after it outgrew previous venues in the North East.

Despite dull and grey weather, about 5,000 people are thought to have taken part in either the 1.5k or 7k walks on the day.

A Zumba warm-up session got participants in the mood for the fun before they set off.

The walk is the charity’s flagship fundraising event and it was officially started by BAFTA award-winning actor John Middleton, who played vicar Ashley Thomas in ITV’s Emmerdale.

People line up ahead of the Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk in South Shields.

People line up ahead of the Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk in South Shields.

In the soap, his character sadly died after being diagnosed with dementia.

John, who has lived in Whitley Bay in North Tyneside, said: “We’re walking for people who have dementia and those who care for people with dementia.

“The main reason everyone is here is so that we have a world without dementia.

“It’s great to see so many people do these walks, of which there are 35 around the country, and I think there are 5,000 here today so well done to everyone

“The weather is a bit iffy, but we’re all from the North East so we’ll get on with it.”

The short route headed out along Sea Road and back along South Shields promenade, while the long route headed further up Sea Road and back along the coastal paths of South Tyneside back towards the promenade.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s Ken Oxley said: “We think there may be more than 5,000 people here today and they have helped raised about £360,000 towards dementia research and treatment which is incredible.

“This is the biggest and best walk we’ve done yet.”