Reunited families set out on fundraising road trip in American school bus

Sophie Chris Leggett Alistair Melinda Davison

Sophie and Chris Leggett (left) with Alistair and Melinda Davison (right). - Credit: Sophie Leggett

A Lowestoft woman, who carries a rare gene mutation that causes young onset Alzheimer's, has reunited with the uncle she didn't know she had for a memorable trip.

Sophie Leggett, 45, is setting out on a road trip today (Monday) with her 'lost' family to raise money for Rare Dementia Support.

Sophie Leggett Familial Alzheimer's disease Lowestoft

Sophie Leggett, who has the gene mutation for Familial Alzheimer's disease, with Barbara the bus. - Credit: Sophie Leggett

Almost a decade ago, Mrs Leggett was tracked down by Alistair Davison, from Somerset, via an ancestry website.

She discovered that Mr Davison, 49, was her uncle.

Her grandfather was his father, having remarried after leaving her mother and aunt when they were very young.

Mr Davison was motivated to track her down to discover why his father had died at a young age, and it was here that Sophie shared the distressing news that it would have been due to a rare form of dementia, Familial Alzheimers Disease (FAD), and that both her mother and aunt had died young from this.

On October 11, Mrs Leggett, Mr Davison and their spouses are setting out on an epic road trip around parts of the UK to raise money for Rare Dementia Support.

In 2018 Mrs Leggett underwent genetic testing and discovered she carried the gene mutation.

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Her mother and aunt developed symptoms when they were in their 40s and died in their 50s.

Mr Davison was also diagnosed with FAD. His wife Melinda said: “Alistair used to travel all over the world with his job.

"The day he was diagnosed he was told to stop work immediately.

"Our lives changed overnight.

"Finding Sophie in 2012 was so special.”

Both Sophie, Alistair and their families have sought help from Rare Dementia Support which supports people affected by seven forms of rare dementia - including FAD. 

Sophie said: “It would be easy to get really down about knowing what the future holds for our family but for us it’s all about squeezing every moment of joy out of our lives while we can!”

With the families having become very close since finding each other, and to make the most of the time they have left, they decided to go on a fundraising road trip.

Sophie and Chris have set out in a bright yellow American school bus, nicknamed Barbara, and Alistair and Melinda in a hired motorhome, nicknamed Evie, for the trip around the UK.

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