Final farewell to South Shields dementia campaigner Joe Grant

Funeral of Joe Grant at St Simon's Church
Funeral of Joe Grant at St Simon's Church

Tireless dementia campaigner Joe Grant was laid to rest yesterday alongside his beloved wife who inspired his relentless mission.

The 86-year-old, from Gosforth Avenue, South Shields, was well-known in South Tyneside for his determination to keep Alzheimer’s disease in the spotlight.

He was relentless in his efforts following his wife Blanche’s diagnosis of the brain disease in 2001.

Sadly, Blanche died in 2012, aged 80, leaving Joe, who had lovingly cared for her for more than a decade, heartbroken.

However, her death made him even more determined to fight for better care and support for those with the disease.

As well as highlighting his campaign locally, he also took it to Downing Street, where he was invited to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha.

Funeral of Joe Grant

Funeral of Joe Grant

Yesterday, family, friends and those he inspired with his tenacity and dedication to such a cause, gathered at St Simon’s Church in South Shields to pay tribute to Joe.

The service was led by Rev Elizabeth Campbell, who spoke about Joe and wife Blanche’s love of holidays and dancing as well as their devotion to one another.

She told how he was the first person in his family who bought a car and was one of the first people to own a Sky dish.

Rev Campbell said: “His whole life was focused around Blanche and greater support and help for people with Alzheimer’s and their carers.

“He has been described by his family as a larger- than-life character, who will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”

Joe was carried out of the church to the sound of Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life as he made his final journey to Harton Cemetery to be buried alongside his beloved wife Blanche.

‘He made a real difference’

The man at the helm of the charity close to Joe’s heart has paid tribute to the tireless campaigner, describing him as “inspiring.”

Paying tribute to the work and his dedication to the cause, Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “When the family and friends of Joe Grant said their final farewell at his funeral service, they were saying goodbye to a man who has left a considerable legacy for people who are affected by dementia, across South Tyneside and beyond.

“Joe was inspired to campaign for change after his late wife, Blanche, was diagnosed with dementia in 2001.

“Since then he tirelessly sought to improve the care and treatment of people with dementia, including raising awareness of the need for dementia services and issues facing carers. I know that rarely a week went by without him making headlines in the Shields Gazette.”

Mr Hughes added: “It is because of this indefatigable attitude that Joe will be particularly missed by my colleagues at the Alzheimer’s Society, both in London and also among the South Shields-based team, including our dementia support worker Liz Williams

“It is thanks to the determination of people like Joe that we are making progress in our aim to create dementia-friendly communities, where people with dementia are understood, and supported to live well, and in increasing funding to support research.

“Joe has made a real difference. He will be missed by everyone who knew him at Alzheimer’s Society, but he will always be remembered for helping us advance in the fight against dementia and will continue to inspire us in the future.