FORMER information technology high flier Jamie Graham is preparing for a gruelling 22-mile row up the Thames to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.

The 62-year-old from Dauntsey, who was diagnosed with the condition two years ago, has rounded up a crew of fellow veteran oarsmen and will start heading upstream from Eton to Hemley on July 2.

Although he has had to give up driving and can no longer use a computer, read or write, he is still phenomenally fit according to his wife Vicky.

He said: "I’ve been a keen oarsman since my school days and, thankfully, it’s an activity I can still take part in and use positively to raise much needed money for dementia research.

"Since my diagnosis I’ve been saddened to find that investment into this dreadful disease has been woefully neglected and I want to help the Alzheimer’s Research Trust in its efforts to fund more research projects."

He added: "My local support group, the Swindon Forget-me-not Centre, has inspired me to keep active and my family and friends have been wonderfully encouraging, putting all the plans for this venture in place and showing enduring patience."

He was 58 and working punishing hours in London in 2003 when he first began to suffer what the family thought was stress. He eventually lost his job, but it was two years after that before they finally knew what was wrong.

"It was two years of panic and just floundering," said Vicky.

An initial MRI scan showed nothing, but finally, a second scan in London, revealed signs of the condition.

"It was a huge shock even though in a way it dotted the is and crossed the ts for us," said Vicky. "It was very scary for Jamie. He felt as though it was a death threat.

"I grieved because I realised that the person I had known for 38 years was going to go."

But his sense of humour and his musical ability are still strong. A guitarist since he was a teenager, he has also taught himself the harmonica since his diagnosis.

"Some days are good. Some days are not so good. But he is terribly excited by this rowing venture," added his wife.

Miranda Mays, of the trust said: "This is an amazing effort and we can’t thank Jamie enough for his determination to help us beat dementia."

The money raised will be used to find treatment, cures and ways of prevention.

"Over 5,500 people in Wiltshire live with the daily reality of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and funding for research is desperately needed."

To sponsor Jamie log on to or call 01223 843899.