Dawn Astle and Rachel Walden to advise PFA on dementia care support

Dawn Astle and Rachel Walden have been appointed to advise the Professional Footballers’ Association as it steps up its campaign against dementia.

Astle, the daughter of former West Brom and England striker Jeff Astle, has campaigned for more recognition of the link between football and dementia since her father died in 2002.

Walden’s father, the former Portsmouth wing-half Rod Taylor, was also diagnosed as having suffered from a neurodegenerative disease following his death in 2018.

The pair will help to shape and strengthen the PFA’s policy on dementia, including its long-term care programmes, in an initial six-month advisory capacity.

PFA assistant chief executive Simon Barker said: “The PFA has publicly committed to improving the support provisions for families living with dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“This is a first and essential step, in trying to provide a comprehensive and holistic service.

“Dawn and Rachel’s insight and experience will be invaluable to help families both now and in the future.

“The onus is now on the PFA, to ensure that we fully support them in the next six months and take this opportunity to put in place a long-term care structure and approach.”

Astle has previously criticised the union’s approach to tackling dementia in the game, saying in 2019 that she had “expected it to do more.”

Following her appointment, Astle said: “As the players’ union, the PFA is uniquely placed to make a real difference to those families living with dementia.

“I will be challenging the PFA to use their voice and influence more strongly within the game, and to take the lead on the issue moving forward.”