Hilgay Raft Race cash will benefit research into memory loss

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A day spent messing around on the river near Downham is now helping to fund pioneering research into memory loss, organisers say.

More than £5,000 was raised for the Addebrookes Charitable Trust at the Hilgay Raft Races, which were held on the River Wissey back in July.

The cash, which has now been handed over to the Cambridge hospital, will now buy 12 cameras, which will be used by patients with memory problems.

Officials hope they will aid research into a host of conditions, including motor neurone disease, stokes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s syndrome and brain injuries.

Scientists from the hospital’s neuropsychology department gave a presentation on their work to members of the Downham Rotary Club, who sponsor the raft races.

Club treasurer Ray Starling, who is also a member of the races’ organising committee, said: “Some of this type of research work does not always get the opportunity of charity money and it makes it all the more gratifying that it’s going towards helping what is seen as an increasingly common medical condition.”

The cameras, which are mounted around the patient’s neck, contain sensors which detect changes in the atmosphere, such as moving from one room to another or meeting another person, and triggers the taking of photographs which will help the patient to remember recent events.

The research, which is being carried out by Dr Georgina Browne and Dr Emma Woodberry, has been backed by technology giant Microsoft, who helped to develop the cameras.

And Jo Pearson, community fundraising manager for the Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, said they had been “overwhelmed” by the donation from the raft races.

She said: “We are very grateful to everyone at Downham Market Rotary Club and those involved with the Raft Race, from Hilgay Village.

“In particular we would like to thank (committee member) Ali Dent, for the huge amount of support and commitment that he gave to this event.

“This donation will make an enormous difference to patients.”

Planning is now underway for this year’s raft races, which are expected to take place on Sunday, July 13.

Anyone interested in taking part should contact Mr Dent on 01366 387686 for more information.