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Stars call on Tories to fulfil pledge to double dementia research funding

‘Red Joan’ Portraits – 14th Zurich Film Festival

Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Brian Cox and Dame Harriet Walter are backing Alzheimer’s Research UK’s calls on the government to deliver on its election promise to double investment in dementia research.

The award-winning actors have thrown their support behind the charity, as it launches a petition holding the government to account on the commitment made over a year ago.

The government made an election promise to double its investment in dementia research to over £160 million a year, but there have been no further commitments made publicly and no strategy outlined for investing the money.

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Dame Judy Dench said: “Having portrayed someone with Alzheimer’s in the film Iris and having seen the impact of dementia on people around me, I’m sadly all too aware of how painful, cruel and unforgiving this condition can be. Not only on the person affected, but their friends and family too, as dementia can turn the relationships we hold most dearly upside down. It is heartbreaking and we must take action.

“A promise was made by government to double its funding for dementia research, to help bring an end to the long and desperate wait for a new treatment. With that vow came hope for everyone affected by dementia. But that hope is fading while government fails to deliver the funding so greatly needed. We cannot let this commitment be forgotten.”

Stephen Fry said: “We place such huge faith in scientists and research to achieve the impossible and transform our lives. On so many occasions, they have delivered, with astonishing success. With the right investment, scientists will make the breakthroughs we so desperately need for people with dementia.

“Government made a promise to accelerate these efforts when it pledged to double funding for dementia research. Now we need to ensure government delivers on this promise, so please sign Alzheimer’s Research UK’s petition.”

The launch of the petition comes after the government failed to acknowledge its pledge to support dementia research in last month’s Spending Review.

Alzheimer’s Research UK says the need to find life-changing treatments for dementia has “never been more urgent” as COVID-19 has threatened progress in research.

COVID-19 has also had a disproportionate impact on people with dementia. A quarter of people who have died from COVID-19 in England and Wales also had dementia, according to research by the London School of Economics and University College London.

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The author Lee Peart

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