Words: John Baron
A Pudsey daughter is is encouraging people to dig out their dungarees and denim to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Faye Mitchell has helped raise more than £50,000 for the charity over the past two years with her Denim for Dementia campaign, which encourages workplaces, schools and care home staff to dress in denim.
She was inspired to make a difference by her mum Carol, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s aged just 64.
Faye, 44, said:
“Mum was diagnosed at an early age, and I wanted to raise awareness that it’s not just a part of getting old, younger people can be diagnosed with it. People in their early 30s can have it.
“I was probably a bit ignorant about it at first, I just thought she would be fine and she just might forget some names.
“It’s been a horrific nine years. She has now lost her speech, she can’t walk, dress herself or eat by herself. I never realised how cruel it was. It’s like someone’s sat there in a world of their own. I don’t know if she knows who I am, I sometimes get a smile from her.
“The really sad thing is that she’s not had a relationship with her grandchildren. I was pregnant when she was diagnosed.
“The fundraising is about trying to get some positivity out of all this and raising awareness at the same time.”
To all those people that are involved with @denimfordementia here is a thank you from me and my mum – nun was diagnosed at the young age of 64 @Shedfieldlodge @alzheimerssoc @tomriordan @Orchardcarehome @akaricare @careuk pic.twitter.com/rt7NHqqh47— Faye Mitchell 🍊 (@FayeGMitchell) April 27, 2021
Faye is now preparing for the third year of her Denim for Dementia fundraising, which is now a national event taken up by people across the country. It will take part this year on Friday 21 May as part of Dementia Action Week 2021.
The first year of her fundraising in 2019 saw her launch Pudsey Does Denim for Dementia, and was focussed purely on her home town, with her children’s school – Waterloo Primary – heavily involved. The event raised £12,000.
Last year’s event was held before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and was taken up across Leeds and beyond, raising more than £40,000.
Faye is hoping this year’s will also be a big success, with local schools and businesses joined by care homes across the country. She added:
“I can’t imagine beating that amount this time given the current situation, but we’ll do our best. Wearing denim would certainly brighten up an office Zoom meeting, so it would be great if businesses got on board with it.”
To kickstart the fundraising campaign this year, the mum-of-two has teamed up with friend Clare Brooke, from Bramley, for a heartwarming video.
It features Clare, 42, singing Neil Diamond’s 1979 hit Forever in Blue Jeans, interspersed with video footage and images of people living with dementia, as well as many who have died with the condition.
The two of them will also be performing in Pudsey town centre on 21 May to raise money.
If your school, organisation, business – or individuals – want to get involved with Denim for Dementia, e-mail Faye on firstname.lastname@example.org, check out Denim For Dementia on Facebook or @FayeGMitchell on Twitter.