THE BLOG

Dementia Can, And Will, Affect Us All

26/04/2017 15:18 BST | Updated 26/04/2017 15:20 BST

It's been over 50 years since I was a part of the World Cup winning side in 1966, but for me, it only feels like yesterday. It is still vivid in my mind. It was such an occasion for the players, the fans and the whole nation.

I can't really put into words still the feeling you have when you're standing in the tunnel, about to walk onto the pitch - it still feels surreal. It still feels euphoric. As a young football squad, we felt invincible because we had the whole country behind us. Etched in my mind is the roar of the crowd as we won, clinging onto the trophy for dear life - and who could forget Nobby dancing?

Those memories are so dear to me. That's why it's now especially cruel that three of our great team have dementia. When I think of the players that we've played with in the World Cup final - my dear friends, Ray Wilson, Martin Peters and Nobby Stiles who were fit and strong and now all have Alzheimer's - I feel devastated. It just shows how, if dementia can affect our dear friends and heroes, it can affect anyone.

Alzheimer's Society, the charity I'm proud to support, say that dementia is set to be the 21st century's biggest killer and there is currently no cure. Someone develops dementia every three minutes - but far too many are facing it alone, without adequate support.

My brother, David, sadly died with Alzheimer's disease when he was 77 in 2012. I experienced first-hand the sadness of watching him slowly ebb away from the man he was - what was hardest was feeling there was nothing I could do about it.

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He had been such a wonderful character, so full of life - he took pride in his life, his career as a bookmaker and his connections to his family and friends. He was proud of me too, and all I'd achieved playing for England.

We were very close. We grew up together and were always in each other's lives

But when he developed dementia, things changed. He forgot things and became unresponsive when asked questions. It was clear something was wrong and, eventually, he was diagnosed with dementia. The David I knew disappeared. It was terribly stressful for his wife Brenda, who was his primary carer. In the end, he didn't recognise us anymore - when I'd visit, I'd try and regale him with tales of football, which I knew he loved, but there was no response.

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Dementia has a profound impact on people living with it and their families and, shockingly, is the only one of the top ten leading causes of death we can't prevent, cure or slow down. Society needs to wake up to the scale and urgency of this condition now, before it's too late.

That's why me and Sir Geoff Hurst, my dear friend and former team-mate, are fronting the charity's latest campaign and urging the British public to come together and unite against dementia, for the sake of urgently improving care, offering more support and understanding and finding a cure. We want our involvement to show people the devastating impact it can have on people and their families - and how contributing a few pounds could really make a difference for those living with dementia and in making steps to finding a cure.

Gordon Banks OBE and Sir Geoff Hurst are calling on the nation to stand with the '66 Team and Alzheimer's Society and unite against dementia. Unite now by texting UNITE to 70677 to donate £3 a month or visit alzheimers.org.uk to find out more