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JohnnieMAINVETERAN radio broadcaster Johnnie Walker and wife Tiggy both know how stressful life can become when you have to care for a loved one . . .

Twelve years ago, Tiggy began caring for Johnnie when he was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer.

And last year, their roles were reversed when Tiggy was diagnosed with breast cancer and Johnnie became her carer.

The couple are now patrons of Carers UK, the charity that’s just clocked up 50 years of making life better for carers; providing advice, information and support services for people who care, unpaid, for a disabled, seriously-ill or older loved one.

Johnnie said: “Tiggy and I both know how hard looking after someone can be. And you can’t do it alone. You need someone to be there for you, too.

“Caring for someone can turn your life upside down. You go from being equals, to one of you being dependent on the other.

“And the thing about life is you never know what it’ll throw at you next.

“Having completely recovered from my illness, we then found out that Tiggy had breast cancer. It was traumatising watching the woman I love suffer so much.

“Carers can easily end up feeling completely cut off from the world.

“I know how important it is to get the right support at the right time. You just can’t do it by yourself and that’s where Carers UK comes in. They really need your help to carry on their work and reach the thousands of carers who are cut off and isolated.”

Tiggy said: “I’d rather be a cancer patient than a carer. There’s no two ways about it.

“Caring for Johnnie almost destroyed our marriage.

“It was the hardest and loneliest time of my life and at the time I thought I had to do it on my own.”

Like Tiggy, many carers don’t know where to turn for help. In fact, six in ten carers say that they missed out on the right support for more than two years.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “Tiggy and Johnnie’s experiences highlight just how caring can, and will, affect all of us at some point in our lives. Carers UK has one mission – to make life better for carers. We want anyone who is caring for a loved one to know that we are here for them.”

Last year, the Carers UK Adviceline responded to almost 20,000 enquiries and their online forum grew to support more than 9,000 carers.

There are currently 6.5 million carers in the UK. By 2037, Carers UK predicts there will be 9 million carers in the UK – a 40% increase.

 

Johnnie and Tiggy talk about their experiences today (Wednesday September 16) on BBC Two at 1pm

 

You can donate to Carers UK’s BBC Lifeline Appeal in the following ways:

Visit: www.bbc.co.uk/lifeline

Call: 0800 011 011

To donate £10, text GIVE to 70121

Post cheques made payable to ‘Carers UK’ to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal (writing Carers UK on the back of the envelope)

If you are a carer and need advice or support, visit the Carers UK’s website www.carersuk.org or Forum www.carersuk.org/forum, or contact the Adviceline on 0808 808 1111/advice@carersuk.org