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By Debbie le Quesne

Thunderbirds legacy: Mission Alzheimer’s cure

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If you’re of an age you will probably remember television’s Thunderbirds which charted the adventures of an international rescue team with Tracy brothers Jeff, Scott, Virgil, Alan, John and Gordon.

The puppetry was poor by today’s computer generated imagery standards, but the space-centred storylines were gripping even ten years or more after the programme was launched.

The man who created this fabulous fantasy was Gerry Anderson, who died just over a year ago aged 83 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

To mark his death a documentary about his live with dementia was launched on Boxing Day.

The documentary, commissioned by Fanderson – the official Gerry Anderson appreciation society – began filming in the summer before he passed away and features Mr Anderson and his son Jamie talking about the condition and how it was affecting their lives.

It tells the story of Mr Anderson’s dementia journey, from mistaking the early symptoms as ‘old age’, through to how they coped as a family and what it felt like for Jamie when his father no longer recognised him.

He also reflects on their work supporting Alzheimer’s Society, and Mr Anderson’s decision to donate his brain to dementia research.

To see the film in full, and hear more of Gerry Anderson’s reflections on his condition and his son Jamie talking about his father’s deterioration over the last few years, visit http://fanderson.org.uk/gerryandersonnews/

The footage offers another insight into this terrible affliction and adds to the growing chorus that action is long overdue on research.

Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 800,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. In less than ten years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7m people by 2051.

Mr Anderson’s famous line in all of his Tracy brothers’ adventures was “Thunderbirds are go!”

And it seems to me they’re still going, but this time on a ‘rescue’ mission far closer to home and much more pressing than any other intergalactic task they have tackled.

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