Jack Draper has opened up about the heartbreaking impact of his grandmother’s battle with dementia in announcing his new partnership with Alzheimer’s Society.
The 21-year-old’s maternal grandmother Brenda has been one of the biggest supporters of his career but she no longer recognises him after being diagnosed with the condition in 2015.
Draper is the latest ‘sports champion’ for Alzheimer’s Society and will use his role to raise awareness of dementia.
“Tennis comes from my nana,” said Draper. “She was a tennis coach when she was younger. My mum played. I was always very fortunate in my family that it seemed like everyone could hit a tennis ball. Me and my brother played when we were young.
“She was always our biggest fan along with my granddad. Very, very hard-working people. Just loved sport in general.
“She has lost all physicality now. She doesn’t know who anyone is. My pa (grandfather) has done an incredible job to keep her going almost. It’s a full-time job. He is essentially her carer.
“It has definitely been really difficult for all of us. That’s why I think it’s important that this is something I want to do. Be an ambassador and support the Alzheimer’s Society. It is something that comes from my heart.
“My pa says that now I have got to the point where you can watch it on TV and I’m playing against great players, she’s looking at the wall. Which is difficult.
“He appreciates what I am doing. He says he is always very proud of me and she would be, too. Without her, I wouldn’t be playing.”
Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity and helps those living with the disease as well as funding research.
Chief executive Kate Lee said: “We’re so incredibly moved that, in order to raise much-needed awareness, Jack has decided to share publicly the heartbreaking details of his nana’s dementia.
“It’ll make so many others feel less alone. Every day we hear stories about people losing the ability to communicate, socialise and enjoy the sports they once loved.
“We must end the devastation caused by dementia, and we’re delighted to have Jack on board as our new Alzheimer’s Society sports champion to help us do that.”
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