A FORMER Lord Mayor of Oxford has urged people to join her as she takes part in a charity walk in memory of her grandmother.

Elise Benjamin will tackle the Oxford Memory Walk to help the Alzheimer’s Society raise money for research and services.

The 51-year-old, who served as a Green Party city councillor for 15 years, has signed up to take part in the charity walk for the first time.

She said: “I'm walking in memory of my grandmother Dora, who was diagnosed with dementia when I was a teenager.

“I have lived with the memory of her rapid decline, the years she spent languishing in a psychiatric hospital, and the impact it had on my grandfather who visited her daily.

“She always took great pride in her appearance and it's sad that my last memories of her are of a withered woman with messy grey hair, no makeup and wearing clothes she would have hated.

“We have come such a long way since those times and today it is possible for someone to live well with dementia – but we still have a long way to go."

Ms Benjamin, who became Oxford's first Green Lord Mayor in 2011, added: "As I'm getting older and people I know are being diagnosed it has made me think more about how far we've come but, especially with an ageing population, how much more we have to do.

“Dementia has affected others in my family as well as friends and neighbours. It is vital that we unite to raise awareness of the condition and help fund research to find a cure in the future.

"I am looking forward to meeting other people at the walk who, through their own personal experience, can understand my own feelings.”

Ms Benjamin's grandmother passed away in 1992 at the age of 76.

More than 1,100 people have already registered to take part in the Oxford Memory Walk, which will take place on Sunday, September 24, at Oxford University Parks.

More than 8,000 people across Oxfordshire are living with dementia and last year’s event – attended by 1,200 people – raised more than £110,000 to help people living with the condition.

Linda Goddard, Alzheimer’s Society operations manager, said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer.

“We are calling on family, friends – and furry four-legged supporters – to unite against dementia this autumn.

“Every pound raised will help Alzheimer’s Society provide information and support, improve care, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.”

She urged people to register at memorywalk.org.uk to join the walk.

To donate to Ms Benjamin's fundraising page visit justgiving.com/fundraising/mw227430