Rugby Star Henry Pyrgos urges Scots to become Dementia Friends

Sunday 17 December 2017

Scottish Rugby International and Glasgow Warriors player, Henry Pyrgos, has joined forces with Alzheimer Scotland to announce that an incredible 50,000 people across Scotland have taken part in the Dementia Friends Scotland initiative and become Dementia Friends.

The 28-year-old scrum half who joined Glasgow Warriors in 2010, and had his Scottish International career breakthrough in 2012, has joined the Dementia Friends Scotland initiative which is helping to change perceptions of dementia. Anyone can be a Dementia Friend, it’s about understanding a little more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people with the condition.

Prompted to get involved with Scotland’s national dementia charity after seeing the effects of dementia first hand, following the experiences of his grandfather Nick Pyrgos (86), who was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. The rugby star now joins Scotland’s national dementia charity as a positive Ambassador and hopes to increase understanding of the illness as well as encouraging the public to challenge the stigma by taking action to support people living dementia.

Speaking at a Dementia Friends information session held at Alzheimer Scotland’s office in Edinburgh to celebrate the initiative reaching the major milestone, Henry Pyrgos, commented: “I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Alzheimer Scotland team and learn about the fantastic work they are doing. It’s great to become part of the Dementia Friends initiative, which has helped me to learn and understand more about the challenges faced for people living with dementia as well as their family and friends. It’s something that has affected my family personally and it’s great to see that there are now over 50,000 Dementia Friends. I look forward to playing my part in raising awareness and helping to reduce the stigma attached to dementia.”

Anne McWhinnie, Dementia Friends Programme Manager from Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We are so grateful to the 50,000 people across Scotland who are now Dementia Friends and who have taken a stand to support the biggest ever social action movement to change perceptions of dementia.

“Our mission is to help make everyday life better for people living with dementia, and change the way the nation thinks, talks and acts when it comes dementia. By becoming a Dementia Friend Henry has committed to spreading greater awareness of the condition and of the urgent need for a dementia friendly society.”

The Dementia Friends initiative aims to give people more insight in to the condition and the real challenges people living with the condition face. It demonstrates the small changes that can often make a big difference to people living with dementia such as adapting how you speak, giving clear information, removing some of the challenges that can cause confusion and changing behaviour – such as simply being patient in a queue. 

Henry joins a long line of recent Dementia Friends recruits including Deputy First Minister, John Swinney and the Scottish Cabinet members who took part in a recent dementia awareness and information session at St Andrew’s House. Since launching, Alzheimer Scotland has delivered Dementia Friends sessions to groups, clubs and workplace organisations across Scotland including banks, utility companies, NHS staff, emergency service staff, legal firms, retail outlets and other public sector organisations.

Find out how to book a Dementia Friends Scotland learning session or watch a section of short awareness videos online at www.dementiafriendsscotland.org or email dementiafriends@alzscot.org. The Dementia Friends Scotland programme is supported by the ScottishPower Foundation.

Dementia affects around 90,000 people across Scotland and by 2020 it is estimated that there will be over 1 million people living with the illness in the UK. If you have any questions about dementia and of the services available in your area call Alzheimer Scotland’s 24 Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or visit the website at www.alzscot.org

ReadSpeaker docReader