Thousands stride out in South Shields memory walk

Thousands of people strode out to help in the fight against dementia and remember loved ones.

Around 3,500 people descended on Bents Park in South Shields on Saturday for the third annual Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk.

Richard McCourt gets the Memory Walk underway in Bents Park

Richard McCourt gets the Memory Walk underway in Bents Park

It is expected to have raised £250,000 which will fund research into the disease and also support local services.

Dick from children's TV presenting duo Dick and Dom started the walk and also took part in it.

Dick - real name Richard McCourt - who is an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society, said: "I lost my mum to dementia at quite a young age, 64, and ever since then I have done things like the London Marathon and cycle rides.

"I think memory walks are special because you get thousands of people like today who have all been affected in some way by dementia.

People of all ages took part in walks of 1.5k, 7k and 22k

People of all ages took part in walks of 1.5k, 7k and 22k

"It brings everyone together for a day to remember everyone."

People could take part in one of three walks; one at 1.5k, one at 7k and a new 22k route which had 700 entrants.

David White, 55, from Durham, was part of a group from the city's Salvation Army church.

David, who lost his mum to Alzheimer's disease, said: "All our church come on the walk, it's an annual thing that we do to raise as much money as we can.

"Looking at all the people it is just inspiring. That's what makes the day for me. It's awesome."

Also taking part was Deborah Ventress, from South Shields, who was joined by numerous family members including her six-year-old nephew Luke Slater and her nine-week-old grandson Sebastian.

Deborah, who walked the 1.5k route, said: "My mam has Alzheimer's. Events like this are extremely important to raise awareness of the effect this disease can have on people and their families."

Walkers set off from Bents Park and walked up the coast and seafront towards Whitburn before heading back.

Rebecca Scott, from the Alzheimer's Society said: "It is an amazing turnout. I think it shows the importance of why we are here today to support people.

"Alzheimer's is he new big C. Everyone here will have personal experience of dementia, they may have lost somebody and come to remember why that person was so important to them and raise money for us at the same time.

"Ultimately we want to find a cure and we can't do that without these nice people."

The Alzheimer's Society has committed to spending £100 million on research over the next ten years.

Similar events were taking place in other parts of the country.