Standing in the grand surrounds of Williamstown town hall, Freemasons Victoria past grand master Bob Jones marvels at his wife’s memory.
His wife of 46 years, Kerry, was diagnosed with early onset dementia four years ago at age 60.
“When you realise how it affects the people and the family and the friends, it’s an insidious thing,” said Mr Jones, of Williamstown Lodge.
“If you chop your finger off you know you’ve got no finger; with this you just don’t know what’s going to happen the next day. The short-term memory is sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
“But if you ask Kerry … we’ve just been walking through this hall here where we used to have, in the ’70s and ’80s, dances 10, 20 times a year, and she can remember all the people and the faces.”
Sunshine West’s Lodge of St Mark will next month host an opera gala at Williamstown town hall to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s Australia and Dementia Research Foundation.
Worshipful Master Emmanuel Marabeliotakis said he was moved to help after hearing about the efforts of Mr Jones’ son, Cameron, known as “The Running Cam”.
He started running marathons after his mother was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and has so far raised more than $21,000 to fight dementia.
“We saw Cameron was doing this run and we previously did a dinner dance for him at which we raised about $3000,” Mr Marabeliotakis said.
“This time we thought, we’ve got so much talent in Freemasonry, we’d better start using it. At the moment, there are more than 400,000 people in Australia living with dementia, 96,000 in Victoria. By holding an event like this we are contributing to important studies to find a cure for this disorder.”
The gala will feature renowned artists including Brother David Barnard of Williamstown Lodge on piano, soprano Kathryn Radcliffe, baritone Roger Howell, contralto Liane Keegan and tenor James Egglestone.
The event, which has seating for up to 450 people, will be held on Saturday, June 24, from 7pm. For tickets, visit operagalanight.eventbrite.com.au. Details: 5427 1666