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Herald fights for improved care for Alzheimer's sufferers

The Harlow Herald is fighting to improve services for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Its campaign began with what was originally intended to be a one-off story about a pensioner Sid Colwell, whose wife Joan suffers from the brain disorder.

Reporter Dana Gloger spoke to Sid for the piece to coincide with National Alzheimer’s Awareness week in July, but four months later she is still writing about the issue and has even taken part in a sponsored walk to help raise cash for the cause.

The campaign has already helped to secure an extra 15 council-funded beds for Harlow, but the Archant-owned paper is continuing its fight as it still means there are only 52 beds for around 1,000 sufferers.

Dana said: “I was hit by the severe lack of services available for people in the town with the condition and their friends and relatives.

“I was shocked to discover there were only 37 council-funded residential beds for people with the condition, in a town with around 1,000 sufferers.

“I listened to Sid, (90), telling me about how he had lovingly looked after his wife of 64 years Joan, (88), at home for six years.

“He told me of his despair at her not being allocated a council-funded bed even though he had recently hurt his back and was finding himself unable to give her the level of care he so strongly felt she deserved.

“Stunned by Sid’s situation and after hearing that he was by no means an isolated case, I decided something needed to be done.”

The campaign has received overwhelming support from readers, and has also highlighted personal stories of a number of pensioners, well into their 80s and 90s, who are having to travel long distances on public transport to visit their partners who have been housed outside Harlow.

Thanks to the Herald taking up their plight, many have been moved to residences closer to home.

Dana said: “Many more beds are still needed and we will continue to press on until these are provided.”

Dana, also took part in a sponsored walk in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society.

She was joined by former Herald reporter Laura Fineberg and Tracy Hubbard, assistant editor of sister papers the Saffron Walden Reporter and the Dunmow Broadcast, and the trio raised £600 between them.