Alzheimers a growing concern for community police

Two local police officers are going ‘under cover’, as they slowly but surely grow beards in an Alzheimers NZ fundraiser.

In a move that they admit is “not 100 percent popular” with their wives, Whangaparaoa Community Constable Sam Webb and School Community officer Bryan Ward are determined to resist the itchy stage and grow full beards until December 10.

Their Forget Me Not project began on July 9.

Bryan came up with the idea after his father-in-law died of Alzheimers recently. He wants to raise awareness about dementia, as well as support Alzheimers NZ.

He says he was shocked to learn that there are currently more than 62,000 people with dementia in New Zealand.

Sam says he could immediately see the connection in the way that, just like a beard, dementia slowly changes a person’s identity and the way they are perceived by others.

He says Police are often called out by people caring for dementia patients who have had an incident occur and don’t know where to turn.

At other times, Police assistance involves helping people who look lost or bewildered wandering the streets.

“We’ve had everything from people catching buses to Takapuna, although they didn’t want to go there, to others who have walked from Gulf Habour all the way to Orewa,” Sam says.

The pair have set up a Givealittle page and are posting weekly photo updates.

Any donations are welcome. Look for Forget Me Not on

Alzheimer’s NZ is a not-for-profit organisation that supports all people affected by dementia.