A FAMILY unable to gather during lockdown to grieve the loss of its much-loved dad to dementia stepped out on a Memory Walk last week to celebrate his life.
Baks Chima and her brothers – Satnam, Sucha, Harijit, Bali and Bobby – embarked on the stroll to honour Sukhdev Sing who died in March.
The walk enabled them to recall cherished memories and to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society at the same time.
The charity’s official flagship event also had to be cancelled because of Coronavirus and its supporters were urged to organise their own smaller versions.
When Baks, 51, a Governance and Control Manager for Santander UK which sponsors the charity event, heard the call for walkers, she decided to step up to the mark after what had been a difficult time for her and her family.
She said: “Although we were able to bid him farewell at his funeral, just days later we were in lockdown which meant me, my siblings and my mum – who also has dementia – were unable to meet up to grieve together, share our feelings and to offer each other support to help us all come to terms with losing our dad.”
Baks would have heartbreaking conversations with her mum who would ask if she had heard from her dad and she would have to remind her over and again he was no longer with them.
“It was overwhelming and painful to deliver – and for her to have to hear – that news endless times through the past few months.
“It would really have helped to be able to get together as a family to support each other through a distressing time.”
The siblings completed their 5km Memory Walk around Memorial Park, Coventry.
Baks said: “We shared emotional, happy stories and reminisced about dad, who came to London in 1955 from Punjab, India.”
In 1961 he had saved enough to get his wife and young son to join him in England.
In 1965 he moved to Coventry where he raised his family and worked as a machine operator at Dunlop.
“He always dressed smartly and with a twinkle in his eye. He was a quiet, unassuming man who has left a huge gap in our lives.
“The walk has helped us come to terms with losing him and was a chance to celebrate a much-loved father, grandfather and great grandfather.”
Baks and her bothers have raised almost £3,500 for Alzheimer’s Society which will help the charity help some of the 850,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK.
Baks said: “As a family we have seen first-hand the pain that dementia can bring to the lives of our loved ones.
“We saw dad deteriorate rapidly from the strong, independent man we had known.”
She said raising funds to help find ‘a life without dementia’ had felt very rewarding.
Eirwen Jones, the Alzheimer’s Society’s regional head, said the pandemic had hit people with dementia the hardest, with a quarter of those dying having the condition.
“Our services have been used over two million times since lockdown began, showing people need us more than ever.”
The charity is facing a £45m shortfall in funding because of the virus.
For more or to register a Memory Walk, visit memorywalk.org.uk or go to justgiving.com/fundraising/memorywalkforourdad to boost Baks’ coffers.