Award for feature on former Leeds star John Atkinson

A feature on former Leeds and Great Britain John Atkinson has scooped a national award.

BBC Look North health correspondent Jamie Coulson was named regional journalist of the year by the Alzheimer’s Society in the charity’s Dementia Friendly Awards for providing a powerful insight into life with dementia.

The judging panel was won over by Jamie’s harrowing account of how John’s wife, Carol Butterfield, struggles to care for the former Leeds and Great Britain player and her frank account of considering ending their lives.

Atkinson, 71, played at four World Cups for Great Britain and scored more than 1000 points in more than 500 appearances for Leeds, playing on the wing.

He was named in the inaugural World XIII in 1978 and later became player-coach of Carlisle.
Jamie, who lives in Leeds, said: “It’s thrilling to win and an absolute honour but the real heroes are the people who let me into their lives, opened up and told stories that really resonated in so many ways.

“People who have dementia can have incredibly powerful stories to tell. When I met these families, it seemed a waste to use them in a short news package and so we spent days with them where we lived their lives alongside them and went through every twist and turn.

“What this gave us was so much more powerful. I didn’t know these people before we started filming but I now find myself going to have coffee with one of them with my little daughter.”

Alzheimer’s Society relies on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0330 333 0804 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk. 

You can watch the full feature by clicking here.

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