After watching both her parents battle with Alzheimer’s, TV presenter and journalist Fiona Phillips talks about raising awareness, her charity walk this month, and her favourite local places where she finds solace in green spaces…

Fiona Phillips knows first-hand the terrible toll that Alzheimer’s has on a family. Both her parents were diagnosed with early onset of the disease – her mum only in her 50s at the time, and so Fiona has been a huge supporter of the incredible work of the Alzheimer’s Society for many years.

Later this month, Fiona will join thousands of supporters for Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk, joining with families who share her experience of dementia. They all walk to raise vital funds in memory of loved ones and enable life-changing support for people affected by dementia. Memory Walks take place across the UK, including Painshill, and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, both 26 Sept.

“I’ve done a few of the walks before and it’s a really great experience because you’re with people who have this condition in common – we know how all-consuming this illness is and the impact it has. It’s good to get together and vent and cry but it is also a happy and positive time – you’re raising money while being out walking and the exercise makes you feel better.”


Fiona talks candidly about her own experiences, as well as her deep fear that one day she too may get the illness. “Watching my parents struggle with Alzheimer’s was truly awful. My mum was crying a lot and didn’t know why. She once accidentally set fire to the house, my dad was arrested for driving erratically and put in a cell – the police thought he was drunk.

“Mum’s illness made her very sad. With my dad, he would have happy moments, thankfully, but he would talk in riddles and laugh at inappropriate moments. It’s a very cruel illness and you feel powerless as there is nothing you can really do to help them. With Alzheimer’s, you literally lose yourself, you’re still alive but you’re not yourself.”

“At the time, I had two tiny children and was getting up at 3am to do breakfast television every day. It was so hard. There was always some emergency, always chaotic.” Her fear of developing the condition is always present, and both Fiona’s maternal and paternal grandparents had Alzheimer’s. In more than 99 cases in 100, Alzheimer’s is not inherited. However, the risk is higher in cases of early onset. “It’s tough – every time you forget something you think, ‘is this the start?’, and that is a hard way to live your life.”



Fiona lives in Wandworth Common with her husband, ITV show boss Martin Frizell, with her two boys, who are 19 and 21, coming and going. She moved in to her current home many years ago, before prices in the area sky-rocketed, and set about transforming it. “The house was a wreck when we bought it. The property had been divided into bedsets, and it was covered in green paint and had electric meters everywhere. But I really wanted it and could see the area was on the up.” She loves walking in the green spaces on her doorstep. “I barely use my car. And we are so lucky to have all these places such as Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Clapham Commons, and Richmond Park.”
Fiona and Martin like dining out at local spots including French restaurant Gazette and Italian Numero Uno on Northcote Road. “Numero Uno is an old favourite of ours and we have pretty much every family occasion there. We also like Gazette, which is lovely. We often go out spontaneously – my husband will phone me on the way home and we’ll go out and leave the boys to it.” Fiona was a much-loved host on our screens on GMTV and then on Lorraine. What’s next professionally? “Right now I’m having a lot of anxiety, which has been debilitating. I think it is menopause-related but it is horrible. So I’m taking a breather. I’m freelance so I’m not letting anyone down but it’s just really frustrating because I love working. I love getting out of the door every morning doing something so hopefully it will go soon, and I’ll be back.