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Issue:- 4 July 2013


Neil Wilson is pictured (centre) with superhero colleagues Mark Edge and Sophie Houghton.

ARGOS staff will transform into superheroes to raise cash for a charity cause which is very close to one of their colleague's hearts. The launch of the new Argos catalogue on 27 July 2013 at The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre in Birkenhead will be staffed by some of the world's most famous superheroes including Batman's trusty sidekick Robin and X Men's Wolverine to raise money for the company's chosen charity; Alzheimer's Society. And Alzheimer's research is a cause that's close to the heart of one of the team, customer advisor Neil Wilson, as he helped nurse his elderly mum Betty after she fell victim to the condition. Neil said:- "My mum was diagnosed in February 2006 but we believe that she'd suspected she had a problem for some time. She'd always loved doing crosswords in magazines, but stopped, saying she was bored. But really, she could no longer manage them. She was living with us, and became very forgetful; we'd find things like the freezer unplugged, and then all the electrical items unplugged. She'd turn the TV on, and then the radio as well ; but couldn't tell you what she was watching. She's also put all the lights in the house on, in the middle of the night, then walk around without knowing where she was. Once my daughter Jade, who was then about 15, woke to find her standing still in her bedroom, which was very un-nerving for a teenager. In the living room we had photos of her grandchildren; and she used to love looking at them. But we'd come back from work and she'd say that the grandchildren weren't talking back to her, so we had to take them all down. I switched from being a full-time manager to working part time at a jeweller's so I could look after her; my wife Julia didn't work weekends, so she could care for her then. Mum didn't want to co-operate with the medical profession, so we had to trick her to get to the doctor, by saying he'd asked to see her. I suspect she was scared of what would happen. Eventually she was diagnosed as being a danger to herself and others. I'd let her go shopping by herself, because she'd always loved shopping. If she hadn't come back after an hour, I would have to go and find her. But one time she disappeared for four hours, and she was just walking the streets, not knowing where she was. It was very distressing for us all, when I realised that I couldn't look after her any longer. She's always been an independent woman; she and my dad Bill ran a greengrocers on Borough Road, Seacombe, working 6 days a week. After dad died in 1986 one of my sisters ran it but finally we had to give it up. Mum, who had raised four children, worked part-time in a sweet shop because she didn't want to be bored. She and Dad used to love going on shopping trips to Chester and Liverpool, or days out to North Wales and the Lakes. Eventually she was moved in to a secure unit at St Catherine's Hospital in Birkenhead. The staff were very good, but there were many others there in the same condition. She was later moved to Albion House at New Brighton which was lovely, like a little hotel, and then when her condition worsened again she moved to Park House in Birkenhead, which specialises in Alzheimer's care; she died there in February last year."

Neil, who joined the Grange and Pyramids Argos store in 2010, is still undecided which outfit to don for the event on 27 July 2013, which will be held in St Werburgh's Square in the outdoor part of the shopping centre. Within the Argos store close by, there will also be a performance by local, professional singer Lilli Moore who has already released her own CD in aid of Alzheimer's research.

Derek Millar, Commercial Director for The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre, said:- "We have been delighted to offer some space within the shopping centre for Argos staff to make their charity collection and catalogue launch a big success on 27 July 2013. Knowing our customers, they will make sure the Argos team raise plenty of money towards their cause which is made all the more poignant when you hear about how the condition has affected Neil, his mum and his family."

Customer Services Manager Pam Thomas says the choice of fancy dress is to mark the staff's commitment to giving excellent customer service and there will be collections made throughout the day to raise money for the charity. "It meant a lot to all of us when Alzheimer's Society was chosen as the Argos charity of the year, because we know how it had affected Neil and his family. We do several fundraising events during the year and customers have always been very generous, and put their loose change in the collecting tubs by the tills. I'm really looking forward to the superheroes day, seeing what outfits people will be wearing. It's always a great atmosphere when we finally unveil the autumn and winter catalogue, because it's a big secret up until then." said Pam.

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