Woman hopes to transform London dementia research with foundation dedicated to her grandfather

Rianna Patterson (L) founded the Dominica Dementia Foundation in honour of her grandfather Terry (R)  (NIHR)
Rianna Patterson (L) founded the Dominica Dementia Foundation in honour of her grandfather Terry (R) (NIHR)

A woman is hoping to transform the lives of dementia patients in the capital – in honour of her grandfather who died from the condition.

Rianna Patterson, 25, from Hackney, founded the Dominica Dementia Foundation to provide support and financial assistance to people with dementia.

Ms Patterson’s grandfather, Terry Vidal, from the Commonwealth of Dominica, passed away aged 80 from dementia in 2013.

She described his death as the “catalyst” for the creation of the foundation in 2016, when she was aged 18.

“I still miss his support, love and guidance. I wanted to use the pain of what happened to help ease the impact dementia has on individuals and families.”

Within a year of setting up the foundation, she met Queen Elizabeth II who presented her with a Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

“The experience was humbling, and it was a true honour for me and the team to be recognised by her,” she said.

“We need more people involved in dementia research to ensure treatments work for everyone. Researchers need to be able to make information more digestible for families and communities because it affects everyone, not just the people living with dementia but the people who love and care for them, too.

“I want to become a researcher and use my knowledge and experience to give back to our communities.”

Dementia affects around 55 million people globally. This figure could reach 139 million by 2050 without an effective treatment, Alzheimer's Disease International has warned.

Ms Patterson is currently working with the Clinical Research Network’s south London inclusivity panel, which is part of the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

The Inclusivity Panel is part of Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust.

Chifundo Stubbs, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the Clinical Research Network in south London, who leads the Inclusivity Panel, said: “I am delighted that we will have the opportunity to work with such an inspiring young woman in our mission to make research more inclusive and representative of the communities we proudly serve.

“Rianna is a credit to her grandfather, and I am sure he would be so proud of everything she is doing in his memory.”