- TV star revealed battle with the disease in an emotional interview with GB News
Alastair Stewart, Britain’s longest-serving newsreader, has revealed he has been diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia.
The 71-year-old anchor announced his retirement in March after 47 years working as a journalist on local and national television.
In an emotional interview with GB News this morning, he discussed his battle with the disease, saying that ‘motor skills (are) very tricky’ and ‘very short-term memory is tricky’.
He explained that around ‘six to nine months’ ago he began to feel ‘discombobulated’ while performing simple tasks around the house, prompting him to visit the GP.
Scans showed he had suffered a series of strokes and he was then diagnosed with the disease, which he acknowledged is ‘incurable’.
Speaking on GB News this morning, he explained that ‘very short-term memory is tricky’ and that ‘motor skills (are) very tricky’
Alastair Stewart was at ITV News for over three decades before he joined GB News in 2021
The broadcasting legend said he is taking various steps to alleviate the effects of the cruel illness, which the NHS says impacts more than 944,000 people in the UK.
He said he has quit smoking and is trying to keep his brain active with dog walks and puzzles.
The most difficult part of his diagnosis, he admitted, has been the impact on his wife Sally, saying it was was heartbreaking to watch her ‘almost reduced to a carer’.
The couple, who live in Hampshire, have been married for 43 years and share four children Freddie, Clemmie, Oscar and Alexander.
Stewart said his wife, who has worked as a production assistant, had to make sure he was ready before appearing for the interview and that his ‘tie was done properly’.
He added: ‘So, if you do think that there’s something wrong with you, go and see the GP, listen to what he or she says.
‘But also do remember that the people you work with and the people you live with and share your life with are the most important people in the entire world. And they are there if you’re lucky enough, as I was, to help you.’
The presenter fronted the last installment of his show, Alastair Stewart & Friends, in March and has returned for occasional appearances as a commentator.
GB News presenter Camilla Tominey revealed today that the channel’s new Westminster studio will be named in his honour, bringing the newsreader to tears.
Stewart was the UK’s longest-serving male newsreader after starting his career with Southern Television in 1976 then ITN in 1980 (pictured with co-host Fiona Foster in 1995)
Stewart meeting Queen Camilla during her visit to ITV Studios to mark their 60th Anniversary in 2015
Alastair was made an OBE for services to broadcasting and charity. Pictured with his wife Sally and their four children at Buckingham Palace
Alastair was at ITV News for over three decades before he joined the start-up channel in 2021.
He said in a farewell statement ahead of his retirement: ‘I’m nearly 71 and I still get the most tremendous lift from live television – it’s the best job in the world.’
‘However, the rigours of preparing for two live interview shows a week, and commuting from Hampshire to London for them, are considerable.
‘I want to reduce my commitment while I’m still ahead as an old broadcaster, rather than an ancient one.
He added: ‘Thankfully the timing is mine; I just want to spend more of it with my family, my horses, and the charities that have meant so much to me over the years.’
During his career, Stewart has covered stories such as the Beslan school siege in Russia, the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany, and various royal weddings.
He was named Presenter of the Year at the Royal Television Society Awards in 2004 and two years later was made an OBE for services to broadcasting and charity.
He started his career in 1976 at ITV’s Southern Television in Southampton, where he served as a general reporter, industrial correspondent, presenter and documentary-maker.
In 1980 he joined ITN as industrial correspondent and a decade later became Washington correspondent.
He went on to anchor ITN’s coverage of the first Gulf War and became the first UK TV reporter to broadcast live from the liberated Kuwait City.
Stewart has also chaired debates with political figures, including Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg ahead of the 2010 General Election for ITV, and for GB News when Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were bidding for the Conservative Party leadership.
Stewart was named Presenter of the Year at the Royal Television Society Awards in 2004 and two years later was made an OBE for services to broadcasting and charity (Pictured in 2018)
He left ITV after a row with bosses at the start of 2020, when there were complaints about a tweet aimed at a black Twitter user quoting a Shakespeare passage that contained the phrase ‘angry ape’.
At the time Andrew Neil publicly backed him and said ‘ITN suits had forced him out’, with any racial element to his comments fervently denied.
Alastair appeared to make a veiled reference to the disagreement in the statement welcoming him to the new channel.
He said: ‘GB News is a unique opportunity to broaden the spectrum, challenge the groupthink and move away a predictable agenda in news and debate.’
The news anchor retired after spending 47 years working as a journalist on local and national television in the UK (pictured in 1995)
Welcoming Alastair’s openness about his diagnosis, Dementia UK’s Senior Consultant Admiral Nurse Victoria Lyons said: ‘We’re sorry to hear that Alastair Stewart has been diagnosed with dementia, and hope that he and his family are receiving the support and assistance they need at this time.
‘By choosing to speak publicly about his diagnosis, Alastair will raise vital awareness of dementia and we hope that this will encourage others to seek advice if they have concerns for their brain health.’
She urged families affected by dementia to reach out to the charity’s specialist Helpline by calling 0800 888 6678 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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