Budleigh: Alzheimer’s Christmas TV advert; ‘tribute to dad’

PUBLISHED: 13:34 16 November 2016 | UPDATED: 13:34 16 November 2016

Liz Ayres with daughters Chrissi and Ciana.

Liz Ayres with daughters Chrissi and Ciana.

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A family from Budleigh Salterton has spoken of their pride, playing a part in a new Christmas television advert by Alzheimer’s Research UK. In the advert, to be shown for the first time on national television tonight, (Wednesday, November 16) Ciana Ayre, aged 21, whose dad, Mike died to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, aged just 51, brings to life the voice Freya in the animation.

Ciana Ayre, aged 21, from Budleigh Salterton, whose dad, Mike died to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, aged just 51, brings to life the voice Freya in the animation.Ciana Ayre, aged 21, from Budleigh Salterton, whose dad, Mike died to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, aged just 51, brings to life the voice Freya in the animation.

A Budleigh Salterton woman’s voice features in a new television Christmas advert by Alzheimer’s Research UK.

In the advert, to be shown for the first time on national television tonight, Ciana Ayre, aged 21, whose dad, Mike died to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, aged just 51, brings to life the voice Freya in the animation.

The animation called Santa Forgot has been launched by Alzheimer’s Research UK to remind people across Devon that dementia can affect anyone. It imagines a world where the magic of Christmas has been lost because Santa is living with the effects of dementia and no longer visits children across the world on Christmas Eve.

The attention-grabbing film highlights the varied symptoms and social isolation of dementia and raises awareness that the diseases that cause it, most commonly Alzheimer’s, strike indiscriminately and really can affect anyone, even Santa.

Ciana Ayre, aged 21, from Budleigh Salterton, whose dad, Mike died to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, aged just 51, brings to life the voice Freya in the animation.Ciana Ayre, aged 21, from Budleigh Salterton, whose dad, Mike died to early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, aged just 51, brings to life the voice Freya in the animation.

Liz, also from Budleigh, who earlier this year was recognised for the work she and daughters Chrissi and Ciana do raising awareness of Alzheimer’s in memory of their husband and father, said: “Santa Forgot is beautiful, sad and hopeful all at once and stirred so many different emotions when we watched it. The film shows that dementia doesn’t discriminate: it affects people from so many different backgrounds from nurses and teachers to world leaders and eloquent writers.

“If we’re ever going to change how society views, or often ignores, dementia, we have to be a bit confrontational and challenge people’s misconceptions. I hope Santa Forgot gives people two minutes to think about the impact of dementia this Christmas, and be inspired by how we can change the future with research.

“I’m proud that my family has been involved in the campaign, and to hear Ciana bring Freya’s voice to life in the animation is a special moment for us and a great tribute to Mike.”

Santa Forgot’s central character is a young girl called Freya, who has grown up in a world where Santa has stopped visiting on Christmas Eve. On learning about Santa’s condition, Freya travels to the North Pole. She offers her own support and re-mobilises the redundant elves as researchers, explaining her belief that ‘if Santa has a disease, research can find a way to fix it’.

Through the depiction of Freya and Santa’s elves, Alzheimer’s Research UK showcases that only with world leading research, new approaches and innovative thinking can the diseases which cause dementia be defeated.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Santa Forgot is a poignant and powerful reminder that dementia doesn’t discriminate. We have to be provocative about dementia, to help fight misconceptions and fatalism around the condition and to demonstrate that pioneering research holds the answers. Santa is an important cultural figure, but the idea that he too could be affected drives home the point that dementia can strike those most special in our lives.

“Dementia is one of our most feared conditions, but misunderstanding persists that it is an inevitable part of ageing. Santa Forgot, like previous campaigns from Alzheimer’s Research UK, makes the simple point that physical diseases drive dementia, most commonly Alzheimer’s. We have made enormous strides against diseases like cancer and AIDS, and with the right research we can do the same for dementia. Santa Forgot reminds us to believe in the power of research.”

Author and actor Stephen Fry is the narrator of Santa Forgot.

He said: “From the moment I was told about Santa Forgot I wanted to lend my support – it is an inspiring and beautiful take on a Christmas tale. I urge people up and down the country to get behind the campaign so we can fuel the fight against dementia and take a step forward to making it history.”

Santa Forgot will be launched this evening (Wednesday, November 16) around 9.15pm during an ad break on ITV and then shown on other TV networks in the coming days.

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