Gordon Banks and Sir Michael Parkinson share experiences to raise awareness of dementia

Former England footballer Gordon Banks and Sir Michael Parkinson have relived their heartbreaking personal experiences with dementia to inspire the nation to reduce the stigma about the condition.

The pair, alongside broadcaster Fiona Phillips, are also encouraging people who think they have symptoms to seek medical advice.

New research from Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) found that a quarter of people hide their diagnosis because of negative connotations surrounding dementia.

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Phillips, whose parents both had dementia, said if her mother had been diagnosed earlier then she could have handled the situation better. “I would have been able to plan more for mum instead of doing everything in a big rush,” she said.

“Our house always smelt of baking when we were little and I used to love helping mum make cakes and there were always cakes in the tin.

“She rung me up at 3am one morning crying her eyes out and she said: ‘I’ve forgotten how to make cakes’. And my childhood went then.”

Sir Michael said: “The ultimate problem you have to face with anyone who has any form of dementia is that you lose them before they die.

“I lost my mother 18 months to a year before she died and that is the ultimate desperate tragedy.”

Banks, whose brother David suffered from the condition, recalled: “We sat in the lounge talking to him and we would ask him a question and he would just go blank. He wouldn’t answer it. He couldn’t remember what we were ­discussing.”

The trio have joined a government campaign to increase early diagnosis rates for dementia.

The new campaign, which is part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to help change people’s understanding of dementia, was launched yesterday on World Alzheimer’s Day.

Mr Cameron said: “Shockingly, nearly 400,000 people are unaware that they have the condition and so we want to make sure more people know what dementia is and how to spot those tell-tale signs.”