Ken leaves his brain to scientists

Joseph Bulmer

Bideford man donates his brain to science

A Bideford man who was committed to being an organ donor has donated his brain to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Ken Lydon died last month at the age of 81, having spent the last two years of his life at the Sandhurst Residential Home in Bideford.

His long-time partner Ruth Nugent told the Gazette: “Ken had no family of his own, having been brought up in an orphanage in Kent. We had been together for 44 years and I miss him so much, even though it seemed he died long ago. He knew me right to the end. If Ken’s story is publicised, maybe more donors will come forward to help in the prevention of this terrible disease or even in finding a cure. I feel that too little is being done and I am proud and pleased that he has been able to help in some small way.”

Mr Lydon had spent much of his life in Kent, moving to Bideford seven years ago. His varied career included as a window cleaner and a wedding photographer.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease 10 years ago, but was generally fit and well until earlier this summer, when he was found to have an aggressive malignant tumour.

He was well known locally at the Barnstaple and Torrington memory cafes.

Mrs Nugent said: “Ken was always interested in transplants and donation of all body parts. He carried a donor card and long before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he signed papers to say that he wished his body to be used for medical science in any capacity. When I heard that the Alzheimer’s Society was appealing for donors, I contacted them and made the necessary arrangements some time ago. Although I had power of attorney, Ken still was able to sign the papers himself. It was his idea. He had it all documented and I am pleased that I was able to carry it out for him.”

The day after his death, Mr Lydon’s body was taken to the North Devon District hospital, where his brain was removed and collected by a representative of the Alzheimer’s Society. It was taken to the South West Dementia Brain Bank at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, she said.

There was a small private committal at the North Devon Crematorium, officiated by the Rev Mike Edson, former Rector of Bideford. It was attended by Mrs Nugent and her two sons, who had known Mr Lydon since childhood. One of her sons flew over from the United States for the ceremony.