TWO lost families that have reunited through an ancestry website will set off on a road trip of the UK today to raise funds for Rare Dementia Support.

Ten years ago Alistair Davison, 49, from Exmoor, tracked down Sophie Leggett, 45, from Lowestoft through an ancestry website.

Alistair discovered that Sophie was his niece and that her grandfather was his own father, made possible after his father having remarried after leaving Sophie’s mother and aunt when they were very young.

He was motivated to track her down to discover why his father had died at a young age.

Sophie shared the distressing news that it would have been due to a rare form of dementia, Familial Alzheimers Disease (FAD).

Sadly, what the pair have in common is both their families have carried the disease genetically.

Alistair was diagnosed three years ago and was forced to stop work immediately, aged just 46 at the time while Sophie carries the gene so will develop symptoms soon.

Unfortunately both her mother and aunt had died young from the same condition.

Somerset County Gazette: Sophie and Chris Leggett left, with Alistair and Melinda DavisonSophie and Chris Leggett left, with Alistair and Melinda Davison

Melinda Davison, Alistair’s wife, said that finding Sophie in 2012 was amazing.

"Finding Sophie in 2012 was so special, we all instantly bonded and draw strength from this in what is a very challenging situation.”

“Alistair was a senior designer of prototype cars, the day he was diagnosed he was told to stop work immediately and our lives changed overnight, he looks and is physically fit but sadly he can’t ever be left alone," Melinda Davison said.

Familial Alzheimers Disease (FAD) is caused by a rare gene mutation and the children of anyone that carries the gene has a fifty percent chance of inheriting and developing symptoms at a similar age to their parent.

Both Sophie, Alistair and their families have sought help from Rare Dementia Support which is funded by the charity The National Brain Appeal.

Sophie said “the first time I went to a Rare Dementia Support meeting I cried all the way through.

"It was such an overwhelming feeling hearing people talking about their thoughts, fears and experiences that were so familiar, like they were saying my own thoughts out loud.”

"I know what lies ahead for me now. It’s tough, but thankfully Rare Dementia Support is there to guide me and my family," Sophie said.

To make the most of the time they have left Sophie and Chris will set off in a bright yellow American school bus, nicknamed Barbara, and Alistair and Melinda in a hired motorhome, nicknamed Evie.

They will travel to Lincoln, Yorkshire, Newcastle, then onto Edinburgh, down the west coast via the Lake District, North Wales, South Wales and back home to Lowestoft.

Purple Heart Wishes, who help adults with a terminal diagnosis to fulfil a wish, are helping with the costs of the campsites.

To make a donation go to

To follow their adventures on go to