BRACE was thirty yesterday (Sunday 24th September). With uncanny timing, the University of Bristol presented BRACE with a certificate the preceding afternoon, as a mark of thanks for a very high level of financial support over many years.

This was entirely coincidental, of course. The ceremony in the Wills Memorial Building was not just for BRACE. We were one of several benefactors honoured at this event; it just happened to be the eve of our anniversary and therefore very well timed.

Certificate

BRACE started out thirty years ago specifically to fund the work of the Dementia Research Group at the University of Bristol, led by Professor Gordon Wilcock. This was an excellent team led by a pioneering scientist, and the funds raised by BRACE made their work possible.

After 2006, changes at the university and the impetus towards development within BRACE itself saw the charity lift its sights to a regional role. Eleven years later, we are also supporting high class research at six other universities: Bath, Cardiff, Exeter, Plymouth, Swansea and UWE, and encouraging collaboration between them. Bristol remains the biggest recipient of BRACE funding, however, not least because of our commitment to the South West Dementia Brain Bank and the work of the clinical research team in the Bristol Brain Centre.

We have ambitions to raise more money to fund more research. Income is typically about 40% of the total of the applications we receive, and we don’t want to be in the position of turning away good research simply because the piggy bank is empty. 

Thirty years on, much has been done, and today we are celebrating. No, not our longevity. We are celebrating, first, the generosity and hard work of our supporters, and, second, the perseverance and achievements of the scientists we have supported.

There’s a lot more to be done. If we are going to play our part in defeating dementia, when research remains woefully underfunded, we need all the help we can get. Please do whatever you can to help raise awareness of our work.

Oh, the picture at the top? It shows researchers from the ReMemBr Group and those of the BRACE staff who happen to be in the office today. The ReMemBr Group, led by Dr Liz Coulthard, here at Southmead Hospital, is a major part of our continuing commitment to research at the University of Bristol, and it was great to be able to celebrate this honour with them.