How Lancaster University is helping people with dementia

Linda Warrington, Dr Penny Foulds and Linda's daughter Lucy at the Defying Dementia shop in Lancaster.
Linda Warrington, Dr Penny Foulds and Linda's daughter Lucy at the Defying Dementia shop in Lancaster.

A retired teacher whose mother died from dementia has explained how the Lancaster University Defying Dementia campaign has made a difference to her life.

Linda Warrington was so inspired by the help she received that she opened the first Defying Dementia Fundraising and Community Shop in Church Street.

She fundraises to support the research of Prof David Allsop, who was the first scientist to investigate the link between ‘senile plaques’ found in the brains of people with the condition and the disease itself.

He has developed a drug that blocks the formation of these plaques and his research led to the creation of the Lancaster University Defying Dementia campaign.

The campaign was founded by Dr Penny Foulds to fund clinical trials of Prof Allsop’s research through MAC Clinical Research in Blackpool.

Dr Foulds was inspired to become involved in dementia research after her own grandparents died from the illness.

She said: “The campaign is a way of funding researchers at Lancaster University who are doing the tests needed to develop a drug which can be used in humans so we can treat this dreadful disease.”

Linda, who taught at Central Lancaster High School before retirement, said: “If a drug can be found it would be amazing. Meeting Penny opened my eyes to how is being done out there and it’s my chance to give a little bit back.

“I don’t want anybody else to have to go through what we went through as a family.”

Linda was helped towards the end of her mother’s illness by support from the Bay Dementia Hub in Lancaster and Morecambe, also founded by Penny.

This is the first open access community based service for residents with dementia, their families, friends and carers.

Linda said: “That was brilliant, the hub got me through at my most stressed time and once we lost mum, I continued to go and started to make crafts to fundraise for the Defying Dementia campaign.”

She now volunteers in the shop, which fundraises for the research being carried out at Lancaster University.

“I thought a shop was a more regular way of fundraising for the Defying Dementia campaign,” she said. “It’s doing really well and I’m pleased.”

Both Penny and David have been named as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.

Universities from across the country were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing.

Prof Dame Janet Beer, President Universities UK, said: “When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities.

“Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives.

“Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.

“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.

“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”

Research shows the public are proud of UK universities but have little understanding of the benefits they bring, with most not being aware that UK academics are behind many of the discoveries that save lives and keep up healthy.

The MadeAtUni campaign gives the public an insight into some of this work and celebrates those who made it happen.

More information on the campaign can be found on the dedicated website at www.madeatuni.org.uk