18/07/2017 15:55 BST

Davina McCall Opens Up About 'Grieving For Her Old Dad', Who Lives With Alzheimer's Disease

'Our dynamic has changed, but he’s still my dad.'

Davina McCall has opened up about her father’s Alzheimer’s disease, revealing she has “grieved the loss of her old dad”.

The presenter’s dad, Andrew McCall, was diagnosed with the disease four years ago, and she first spoke publicly about it in November last year.

Speaking after joining forces with the Alzheimer’s Society to support their Memory Walks across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this autumn, Davina explained she’s had to “forge a new relationship” with her dad.

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“I have grieved the loss of my old dad,” she said. “But we are forging a new relationship, a different one - one where perhaps he might need me more. Our dynamic has changed, but he’s still my dad.

“My dad is very charming, everyone he meets falls in love with him. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. He still gives the best hugs and my kids adore him. Since he’s had Alzheimer’s, he has become calmer and kids respond very well to that.

“My dad has always been my rock. He’s way smarter than me, funnier, stronger. I’ve always slightly hero-worshipped him.”

She added: “The person I do worry about is my mum. It’s a lot, watching the man you love struggle and I know it’s tiring for her. Each day is a blessing. We as a family are learning to adapt fast. Each step we discuss together.”

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Davina and her mum Gabby will be joining Andrew, 77, on the Brighton Memory Walk next month, and are urging others to sign up too. 

Speaking for this first time about living with Alzheimer’s, Andrew said: “I am blessed with a strong streak of optimism and there is no doubt that it has helped me come to terms with the diagnosis. I’m doing what I am told to do by the professionals: no more alcohol, plenty of exercise, plenty of reading and challenging my brain to keep things working as much as possible.

“When it was suggested that I might like to register to take part in research into Alzheimer’s disease I leapt at the chance. Why wouldn’t you want to do everything possible to help find a cure, or at least a way of slowing down progress of the disease?”

He added: “I am full of hope for the future. Maybe I will not reap the benefits of research but I feel sure future generations will do.”

To find the nearest Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk to you, visit the website at memorywalk.org.uk.