EVERY year, on a Sunday afternoon in late summer, I walk round a park with my mum’s name pinned to my back.

I’m joined by a throng of people of all ages and abilities - some with toddlers in pushchairs, some with dogs on leads, some in wheelchairs, and some walking alongside friends and family. Like me, they wear the name of a loved one, handwritten on a piece of card.

The atmosphere at the Memory Walk is fun and uplifting. There’s live music, a bit of a warm-up, bottles of water handed out. Some folk turn out in fancy dress, rattling buckets. There’s a sense of unity that I find very moving - we are walking in memory of people with dementia that we have known and loved, or continue to know and love. Some of the people taking part have dementia themselves.

Yesterday I once again stepped out for a Memory Walk. This one was in Bradford, though York has them too.

A Memory Walk isn’t a Marathon, it’s not a mass of feather boas, stetsons and face glitter (although feel free to work the feathers if that’s your thing). It’s simply a walk, allowing time for quiet reflection, a chat and a few laughs, and to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.

I have written before about my mum’s dementia. She wasn’t much older than me when she was diagnosed with what we now call early onset dementia. Unless you’ve experienced the reality of this you probably won’t understand it.

I have good, supportive friends, but most have no idea what it’s like to see the person you love most fade away before your eyes.

Your mother is barely 60 and you’re dressing, washing and feeding her, soothing her when she’s screaming in despair or has fallen in a crumpled mess, and helping her on the toilet - and she doesn’t even know your name.

You never come to terms with it, but you crack on with life after loss, like everyone else does. But not a day goes by when I don’t think of how she was before dementia.

This week I spoke to a lovely woman, Sadie Graves, whose mother had dementia. Like my mum, she was diagnosed in her 50s, and died in her 70s. Like me, Sadie lost her beloved mum gradually, piece by piece. “She used to look at me and say, ‘I don’t know you, but you’re very nice’,” said Sadie. Like me, she felt guilty for sometimes being impatient with her mum. And one of the saddest things for Sadie was that her mum didn’t get to enjoy her grandchildren. “The younger ones just knew her as poorly grandma, they didn’t know her before dementia,” she said.

Talking to Sadie, I could relate to everything she was saying. Initially her mum was wrongly diagnosed with depression, as mine was. The turning point came when her mum forgot to bake a birthday cake for her son’s first birthday. “I told the doctor, ‘That’s not normal behaviour for her’, but it took two years to get a diagnosis,” said Sadie.

Sadie, like me, was shocked to discover that dementia is a terminal illness. “I couldn’t believe it when they told me she was dying,” she said.

Like many others affected by dementia, Sadie and her family support Bradford Memory Walk. I’ve met several people on the walk over the years, each with their own story. One woman I met had lost both her husband and son to dementia. What unites us is celebrating those we have lost, and those who are still with us.

My mum was robbed of her memories, but I still have mine. And, for me, that’s what the Memory Walk is about - remembering the person you loved, and being thankful for them.