In the UK, a creative Christmas promotion is calling for donations for dementia research.
The main star of the dementia short film – Santa Claus. This comes in light of new statistics that show that dementia overtook heart disease this month to become the number one cause of death in the UK.
The award-winning short, simply titled “Santa Forgot” and narrated by Stephen Fry, warns that anyone can be affected by dementia, “even Santa”.
The film begins in a world without Santa, when little Freya comes across a Santa toy and asks what happened.
She is told of how one Christmas Eve, Santa’s health was declining – forgetting how to send presents, something he had done with no problem for years.
The story narrates, “he began to mix up presents and muddle names. He seemed sad, distant and afraid. Year by year things got steadily worse. Until finally, he stopped coming altogether.”
The little girl, determined to do something, journeyed to the North Pole to help an ailing Santa.
She met with his elves, who were lost without Santa, and explained that “if a broken mechanism could be mended, then so could Santa”.
Inspired by Freya the elves transformed their workshop to a lab, focussed on finding a treatment for Santa.
Freya then visits Santa and gives him a bit hug, finally telling him “I believe in you”.
Viewers are told: “If Santa had a disease research could find a way to fix it…Only research has the power to change the future.”
Stephen Fry told the Mirror, “Many of us have been close to someone with a parent or someone they love very much in the grip of dementia.”
“I remember visiting the mother of a friend in the very severe stages of dementia and seeing her not recognise her own son.
“Humans are ultimately social animals and the idea of being isolated from our social networks is as frightening as anything can be.
“Dementia is one of the most pernicious and unacceptable things that can happen and it can happen to anyone – even those most special to us.
“History has shown that dementia is no respecter of persons…Santa Forgot imagines a world where not even Santa is immune to its devastating effect.
“In the year since Santa Forgot first launched, another 200,000 people in the UK have developed dementia and they’re surrounded by families who may be struggling to cope this Christmas.
“The pace of progress is improving but research funding for dementia still lags behind…scientists need our support….”
Even the actor who voiced Freya, Ciana Ayre, has been personally affected by dementia.
She lost her father to early-onset Alzheimer’s around four years ago, “there will always be a hole where my dad should be.”
“The public response to Santa Forgot was amazing, especially when it was competing with big retailer adverts trying to get us to spend money on presents.
“It showed me that dementia is so close to so many people’s hearts and that Christmas is still a time for good deeds.
“I know my dad would have been proud of my role in the animation and I hope people share its important message.”
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