UK’s best-selling author, Terry Pratchett, has pledged $1million to leading UK charity, the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, in a bid to help find a cure for the devastating disease, with which he was diagnosed in December 2007.
Speaking at the charity’s ninth Annual Network Conference in Bristol, the Discworld author addressed leading dementia experts, describing the sheer frustration he felt after learning he had a rare version of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and the extreme lengths he will go to in order to beat the disease.
Mr Pratchett says, “Part of me lives in a world of new age remedies and science, and some of the science is a little like voodoo, but science was never an exact science, and personally I’d eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance.”
On the issue of raising awareness of dementia and the urgent need for more research, the author will add, “I intend to scream and harangue while there is time.”
While offering a light-hearted take on the disease, Mr Pratchett is aware that his generous donation to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust will not guarantee a cure can be found in his lifetime.
“I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when the Cure comes along. Say it will be soon ? there’s nearly as many of us as there are cancer sufferers, and it looks as if the number of people with dementia will double within a generation. In most cases, alongside the sufferer you will find a spouse suffering as much. It is a shock to find out that funding for Alzheimer’s research is just 3% of that to find cancer cures.”
Mr Pratchett’s donation is in recognition of the urgent need to provide funding for research into the disease, which affects an estimated 700,000 people in the UK. For every person with Alzheimer’s, ?11 is spent each year on UK research compared with ?289 for each cancer patient, even though similar numbers of people are affected.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said, “Whilst we were deeply saddened to learn of Mr Pratchett’s diagnosis, we are delighted that he has chosen to speak out about his experiences with Alzheimer’s disease, to raise awareness about its impact and the desperate need for more research.
“Research is the only way to beat this disease and help people like Terry ? to prevent them losing their thinking skills and keep them doing the things they love. Terry’s generous donation will fund promising UK research which hopes to find ways to slow down or halt the disease. The reality is that we are scraping for every penny and have to turn down two out of every three research projects.”
200 of the UK’s leading dementia researchers, from across the ART’s 15 Network centres will attend the conference which is an opportunity to exchange research results and discuss new ideas to tackle dementia.
Source: Alzheimer’s Research Trust, UK