Alzheimer’s Research UK has been chosen as charity of the year for one of the world’s most prestigious equestrian events, the 2013 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Richard Meade OBE braved the snow to join other supporters and staff from the UK’s leading dementia research charity when they visited the course in January, in preparation for the May event.

Alzheimer’s Research UK supporters Jamie and Vicki Graham, from Dauntsey, nominated the charity for selection for this premier occasion in world eventing.

Mr Graham was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s five years ago, at just 59. Since then the couple have made it their mission to do everything they can to support the charity’s pioneering research.

Richard Meade, legendary triple Olympic gold medallist, who won the Badminton Horse Trials in 1970 and in 1982, explained his motivation for supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK: “Jamie and Vicki are dear friends and I’ve seen how their lives have been turned upside down by this devastating disease,” he said. “I’ve been disappointed to learn about the lack of money for research to find new treatments.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK are the experts and their involvement with the Badminton Horse Trials is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the charity’s vital research and the need for more funds.”

Mrs Graham talked about the reasons for nominating Alzheimer’s Research UK as charity of the year for the Badminton Horse Trials: “Watching Jamie slowly deteriorate in front of me is incredibly painful,” she said. “I feel I want to shout from the rooftops to make everyone aware that Alzheimer’s isn’t a natural part of ageing. It’s a disease and there’s nowhere near enough money for research to prevent, treat or cure it.

“Badminton is a regular event in my calendar and with such a huge following I couldn’t miss the chance to nominate Alzheimer’s Research UK to help spread the word. I’m so delighted they’ve been selected as charity of the year.

“Before his diagnosis, Jamie had a high-powered job in IT. Since then he’s had to give up so many things - he can’t drive, use a computer, read or write. He has difficulty stringing words together and I need to be aware of his ability to wander off and get lost.

“Ordinary daily routines like dressing and undressing are challenges for Jamie and I need to help him with an increasing number of things. But he has tremendous courage and he’s never lost his sense of humour. I would so dearly love to see new treatments found to give hope to so many people like Jamie. Research is the only answer.”

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are proud to be chosen as charity of the year for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. We are hugely grateful to our dedicated Champions Jamie and Vicki Graham for nominating us and thrilled to have the endorsement of such an eminent horseman, Richard Meade. This important event provides a tremendous opportunity to raise money and awareness of our world-class research.

“Every £20 raised for Alzheimer’s Research UK during the Badminton Horse Trials will pay for another hour of research. This will bring us closer to finding better forms of diagnosis, preventions, new treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”