Sir Sean Connery’s widow has given $1million to help find a cure for dementia in the screen legend’s name.
Micheline, 92, was moved to make the generous donation after witnessing the severe effect dementia had on the Oscar winner in his final days.
She has handed the seven-figure sum to global charity Race Against Dementia, which was set up by Sean’s close pal Sir Jackie Stewart following his wife Helen’s diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia in 2014.
Micheline, who was married to Sean for 45 years, said: “Dementia is a devastating disease that not only takes the spirit from the sufferer but poisons the ecosystem of the family of the afflicted as they experience a loved one slowly fade away.
“Having seen the dreadful impact that dementia had on Sean, particularly towards the end of his life, our family feels privileged to support the vital research being undertaken.”
Sean died aged 90 in his sleep, with Micheline by his side, at their home in the Bahamas in October 2020.
But despite enjoying an incredible life, his final two years were blighted by the debilitating disease, which tragically left him unable to express himself.
Moroccan-French painter Micheline, who met Sean in 1970 at a golf tournament, added: “We dearly hope that this gift in Sean’s name will meaningfully contribute to the development of treatments to cure and prevent dementia.
“And, in the meantime, to support those suffering from or caring for a person living with dementia.”
The seven-figure sum will initially fund a pilot scheme at Edinburgh University.
And it will enable scientists to work in collaboration with the Alzheimer Center in Amsterdam as part of Race Against Dementia’s International Discovery Hub.
Sean was one of 50 million people worldwide with the degenerative neurological condition.
It is already Britain’s biggest killer and, shockingly, will kill one in three people born today. Statistics show a new person is diagnosed every three seconds, with the overall figure now expected to rise to 152 million by 2050.
As part of their 2019 manifesto, the Conservative government pledged to double dementia funding, an extra £800million, over the next decade but it has yet to happen.
Britain spends £11.9billion a year on an estimated 850,000 patients – dwarfing the £5billion the NHS spends on cancer and £2.5billion on chronic heart disease.
Three-time F1 world champion Jackie, 82, was pals with Sean for more than 50 years.
He witnessed how the disease struck down the 007 star, as well as his own wife, who is confined to a wheelchair and needs 24-hour care at home. He is employing young scientists in labs throughout the world.
And Jackie is hoping to use Micheline’s donation as well as his own experience in competitive, cutting-edge motorsport to inspire his recruits to find a way of winning the war on dementia.
He said: “Sean was one of my best friends ever. I deeply appreciate that the Connery family has supported Race Against Dementia with such a generous gift.
“This will help RAD to fund further research in Scotland and accelerate finding a way to prevent or cure dementia which, as both our families know only too well, is a devastating illness.”
Edinburgh University professor Siddharthan Chandran said: “We are so grateful to both RAD and the Connery family for supporting the forward-looking program of research.
“This is a long journey but it begins with catalytic investments like this one that are all about driving new approaches to tackling this most debilitating of conditions.”
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