Daily Telegraph deputy football correspondent Jeremy Wilson has won a prestigious honour at Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards 2017.
Wilson has successfully spearheaded a campaign for research into potential links between playing football and dementia and written a series of hard-hitting stories about former footballers who are living with dementia.
In recognition of that work he was named National Journalist of the Year by Alzheimer’s Society, the SJA’s charity partner for the 2017 British Sport Awards and British Sports Journalism Awards sponsored by the National Lottery.
Wilson said: “I am thrilled. Like many families I have been affected by dementia as both my grandmothers had this condition and therefore it feels extra special and a little bit more personal.
“Above all, I am delighted for the families of the footballers as they have trusted us to tell their stories. They have driven the campaign to get answers from football and I am really pleased their stories are being heard.”
Through a series of interviews and investigative news reports, Jeremy has championed change since reporting how half the surviving outfield 1966 England World Cup-winning team had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or memory loss.
Last week his efforts culminated in a major breakthrough with the announcement of a major study assessing whether footballers are at greater risk of degenerative brain disease, jointly commissioned by the Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association.
Wilson was accompanied by Dawn Astle, the daughter of former England international Jeff Astle. The family have been campaigning on what they call ‘sport’s silent scandal’ since an inquest found that Jeff died in 2002 from head injuries caused by playing football.
Dawn said: “I had to fight back the tears when it was announced that Jeremy had won. He really is a fabulous journalist but he has got a heart of gold as well.
“I feel so lucky that he has got stuck into this issue – and the work that he has done has meant that families in the world of football who are affected by dementia will get answers to their questions on the links between the two.”
Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes said: “With skill and sensitivity, Jeremy has done the newspaper industry proud by uniting with many retired footballers and their families to tell the moving stories of how dementia has affected them.
“His tenacious journalism prompted other families to tell their stories and was featured across other national media, including the BBC and Sky News, to tackle once and for all the taboo that has forced many people to keep dementia a secret.”
BBC Look North Health Correspondent Jamie Coulson won the Regional Journalist of the year award which was presented by last year’s winner, Emma Clayton, Lifestyle Editor at the Bradford Telegraph & Argus.
PICTURE CAPTION: Wilson is flanked by Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes, Emma Clayton of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, who presented the award, and event host Angela Rippon.