Cambridge graduate turned film producer, Jo Rogers has rowed with the Duchess of Cambridge and rowed the English Channel with a team of elite female athletes, the Sisterhood. Next she will row from Henley to Eton on Wednesday 1 June to raise Â£100,000 for Great Shelford-based Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK, alongside Jamie Graham who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimerâ€™s at just 59.
A crew of veteran oarsmen will join Jo and Jamie for the 22 mile Forget-Me-Not-Row. Among them will be former Olympic rowers Col Alexander Lindsay, 74, who competed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome and Hugh Matheson, 62, who rowed in the 1972, 1976 and 180 Olympic Games.
This is the second Forget-Me-Not-Row and, thanks to everyoneâ€™s generosity, last yearâ€™s event raised a record Â£97,000 for Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK – the largest amount ever raised by an independent fundraising group for the UKâ€™s leading dementia research charity.
Jo, 37, a Clare College Graduate now based in London with Scion Films, explained her motivation for taking to the water to support Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK:
â€œIâ€™m delighted to be part of the Forget-Me-Not-Row crew this year and help raise desperately needed funds for Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK. So much needs to be learnt about this distressing and disabling condition â€“ itâ€™s not just a normal part of ageing.
â€œMy granny, Mary, died two years ago after a seven year battle with dementia. It was heartbreaking to see her gradual decline from an incredibly bright and sparky local councillor, who walked eight miles a day with her Dalmatian, to someone who needed 24-hour care and could no longer communicate with us at all.
â€œI started rowing ten years ago and was a member of the Thames Rowing Club and the Thames Tradesmenâ€™s. I rowed across the English Channel with the Sisterhood in 2007, racing against a team of men, and the Duchess of Cambridge joined us for our training. Even at 6am in the morning she was graceful and spirited. Iâ€™m thrilled now to be rowing with another elite and talented crew.
â€œAll the money we raise will go towards a specific research project funded by Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK, looking at the link between physical activity and Alzheimerâ€™s. This is particularly significant for Jamie because, although heâ€™s had to give up his job and can no longer drive, use a computer, read or write, he finds keeping fit and active really helps â€“ heâ€™s an amazing man!â€
Jamie Graham, who lives in Wiltshire and was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimerâ€™s in 2007, added:
â€œItâ€™s wonderful that Jo will be part of the crew when we get the blades flashing again for Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK. Itâ€™s dreadful that thereâ€™s so little funding available for dementia research. But weâ€™re thrilled to make a difference through the Forget-Me-Not-Row.
â€œWhile there are many things I canâ€™t do now and words sometimes fail me, Iâ€™m very lucky to have the continued encouragement of my wife Vicki, family, friends and my local dementia support group â€“ theyâ€™re all a huge inspiration in keeping me active.â€
Miranda Mays, Community Fundraising Manger for Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK, added:
â€œItâ€™s great to know that Jo is on board as part of the Forget-Me-Not-Row crew. Last yearâ€™s event raised a record amount for us and itâ€™s incredible to think theyâ€™re taking on this exciting but mammoth task again – we wish them every success.
â€œThere are over 6,000 people in Cambridgeshire living with dementia today. Dementia can only be defeated through research but funding lags far behind that of other serious diseases. We rely entirely on our wonderful supporters to fund our pioneering research.
â€œThe money raised from the Forget-Me-Not-Row is helping to fund a four year research project led by Dr Magdalena Sastre at Imperial College London. Dr Sastreâ€™s team is looking at a particular protein which increases during exercise and the possibility that it could protect against Alzheimerâ€™s. Research is the only answer to defeat dementia.â€
To help Jo and Jamie raise funds for crucial dementia research, donate online at www.forgetmenotrow.com or call the Fundraising team at Alzheimerâ€™s Research UK on 01223 843889.
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