Formula One legend Sir Jackie Stewart is well known for being a 3-time Formula One world champion. However, years later, the British former driver is now winning hearts with beautiful gestures to his wife. As it turned out, his wife, Helen has been suffering with dementia since 2016. However, in spite of those three titles, he affirmed that battling dementia would mean even more to him than his racing triumphs.
Lady Helen’s condition got to a point where she was left in a wheelchair and needing 24-hour care at home.
“I know there may come a day when Helen can’t remember me,” he confessed, “but I give her kisses and hugs all day, every day and try to treasure every moment.”
“She needs love because she’s lost. I’ve lived with dementia now for five years and I’ve seen the degradation, in human terms, of the one I love.”
“It’s a very cruel illness for the patient, but also hugely challenging for the families. You learn to cope with it – there’s no other option. It’s a learning curve.”
“You can never say to her, ‘Remember, I told you,’ because she won’t remember what you’d told her, so you have to bite your tongue.”
Sir Jackie Stewart described Helen’s deteriorating condition as being unable to walk without assistance from nurses, even from the living room to the dining area. He continued, saying that she would often forget which of their homes they were residing in.
Speaking wistfully, he said, “There are still times I see the old Helen. Every now and again she just shines. She’ll come up with something I can’t believe she’s remembered. It’s a great feeling when it happens.”
“Helen needs a lot of attention, a lot of love and company and sometimes that doesn’t happen with people suffering from dementia.”
“Many people are left at home and only occasionally given care to come in. One of Helen’s best girlfriends had to sell her house to afford care at a home for her husband. And the cost of moving into a care home is unaffordable to most people.”
“The most important thing for me is seeing her happy. It would hurt like hell if I had to send Helen to a home. She hates it when I’m away.”
Naturally, Helen’s condition has taken a toll on Sir Jackie Stewart himself. However, he is refusing to throw in the towel, and launched a global charity called ‘Race Against Dementia‘ The aim of the charity is to build a team of young scientists to find a cure for the debilitating condition.
In addition to that, he has raised millions from wealthy donors who give cheques of up to £1million – and racing fans at Silverstone who hand him £20 notes.
The ex-racer is confident that there will come a day when a new way of winning the war on dementia will be found. “I’ll show them that world and how in Formula One we find solutions rather than 30 years with no results,” he says.