back to article Terry Pratchett donates £500k to Alzheimer's charity

Terry Pratchett has announced he will donate £500,000 to the UK's Alzheimer's Research Trust, three months after he was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease. The 59-year-old Discworld creator called the diagnosis "an embuggerance", and said it had provoked a "violently coherent fury that made the Miltonic Lucifer's rage …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very cynical

    Nothing like a bit of personal pain to make the rich dig deep.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if...

    He will make another one in a few months time...

    (I'm sorry...!)

  3. Ash
    IT Angle

    Forgive the cynic in me...

    ... but isn't this just like the "gesture" Chrstoper Reeve made to that spinal injury charity?

    After suffering a spinal injury?

    Granted it will help many others, maybe only others, but it's not as altruistic as it appears at first glance.

    Either way, there will be no cure while there are still drugs to be sold by inhumane pharmaceutical companies which control symptoms over a period of time, instead of treating the cause.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    C.M.O.T Dibbler Say's

    Think of the merchandising possibilities....

    Instead of people sporting ribbons they could sell dried frog badges to raise awareness.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC

    Doesn't everyone give to charities they are affected by? If you know someone with cancer you're more likely to give to a cancer charity, so of course someone with altzheimers is going to give to a charity doing research in to that. Being rich just means he can give a bit more. And nothing wrong with being selfish about it - of course he wants to do everything he can to find a cure so he can get better and live a long and happy life. Wouldn't you?

  6. Rob

    @ 1st AC

    And how much of your personal fortune (however big it is) have you given to Alzheimers research?

    Of course people are motivated by personal pain. But very often it's not until something effects you directly that you find out how little is being done about it in the first place.

    I'm sure Pratchetts publicity will also help others donate to the research programs that hadn't even heard about it before hand.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    RE: I wonder if...


    as the librarian swings down and slaps you with a banana


    \now where did i leave my goldfish

  8. Andrew

    @AC #2

    "Doesn't everyone give to charities they are affected by?"

    Not necessarily. I donate to a charity that works to improve conditions in third world countries. As far as I can tell, I don't stand to gain anything from this.

    If anything, the price of sweatshop-made runners will probably go up.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nowt wrong with that

    He wants to save his own arse, sounds like a human to me.

  10. Louis Cowan


    I've donated to Diabetes UK - I don't have diabetes, but my father does - does this make my donation any less altruistic?

  11. Smallbrainfield
    IT Angle

    So what if it's cynical?

    I'm sure the people doing research into alzheimers don't give a monkeys.

    As to charity, I'm pretty sure Pratchett has done a bit of work with charities dedicated to saving the Orang-Utan, so he's hardly Montgomery Burns

    Is it cynical of me to hope Pratchett's money finds a cure then he can churn out a couple more novels, which I happen to enjoy?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    There are so many charities out there.

    You don't know how much the guy gave to other charities befefore, and even if he didn't that is his choice.

    Plus he knows that any money he gives most likely won't bring about a result in his lifetime. The personal experience of something makes you realise just how horrific something can be and not just for the sufferer but family and friends also.

    Please stop turning this comment into the drivel that is more suited to the BBC HYS.

    Bloody miserable lot you are.

    Amanfrommars because we need his wisdom in these troublesome times.

  13. Andy ORourke

    @ smallbrainfield

    You should be very careful using the "M" word!

    I too hope Mr Pratchett gets better, funniest author, ever.

    I dont care if anyone thinks his motivation is selfish or cynical. The guy has earned his money it's up to him how to spend it and I think Human nature dictates in cases like this?

  14. Anonymous Coward


    "If anything, the price of sweatshop-made runners will probably go up."

    If the price of my Nike's goes up, I'll be coming after you for the difference buddy!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cynicism versus altruism

    Ummm call me unimaginative, but does it really matter what the motivation is? People (actually, let's call them boffins) working to wipe out this disease have half a million quid today they didn't have yesterday.

    Experts call this 'a very good thing'.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    I don't think Pratchett is claiming altruism. "We need you and you need money" is not characteristic language of someone acting, or even pretending to act, altruistically.

    Do you people even think about what you're typing?

  17. Nick Fisher

    In this day and age

    Generous as it is, £500k doesn't fund a lot of biomedical research these days. It should be sufficient for 2 or 3 three-year postdoctoral posts, plus support for a few graduate students.

  18. Ishkandar

    Certainly explains why...

    ...most of his later books were crap !!

    "f you know someone with cancer you're more likely to give to a cancer charity" - No, I wouldn't. It would be a sheer waste of my money. I would give it directly to those who are doing the actual research. Most money given to charities go towards funding the "administration costs" and very little trickle down to the researchers !! It's a bloody industry in its own right !!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    I thought the question posed was whether everyone gave to charities that they are affected by, and not whether everyone didn't give to charities they aren't affected by.

    Or am I just demonstrating early embuggerance?

    In any case the answer is probably no, but it is such an incentive it is probably often the case.

    Anyway, other reports say $1m not £500k so someone's getting muddled. Perhaps he forgot and did both?

  20. Echowitch

    CMOT =)

    £500,000......thats a lot of dried frog pills :)

    I wonder what that is in Ankh Morpork dollars ?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Mr Pratchett is paying for the Alzheimer's drug Aricept because the NHS says he is too young to get it for free."

    Hmm, if true, that's blatant ageism. If you are too young then bugger you, you can go confuse yourself in the corner for all we care. We'll get back to you when it's too late to help.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Nick Fisher

    Not to mention that half of it goes to pay the managers of the high-street charity shops. Not saying that's a reason not to donate, just merely that perhaps charities need to be under more scrutiny.

  23. Jonathan Evans

    Best Quote

    My favourite bit of his speech is quoted by the bbc ( "Personally, I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance."

  24. Graham

    @All those miserable buggers who think he's being cynical

    Who cares?

    Did you know how much money goes to Alzheimer's research before? Do you now? Wonder why?

    Ok £500k isn't a huge amount in itself... but to misquote the Mastercard advert

    Donation to Alzheimer's Charity £500,000

    Publicity for Alzheimer's Research Priceless

    Before whinging about others being or not being altruistic, go and give money to charity yourself. Whether you shout about it or not is another matter.

    \Mine's the tattered one with sequins spelling Wizzzard across the back

  25. Mike Fortey


    A million dollars is still a lot of money to a writer. Even for the likes of Pratchett, there's surprisingly little money in it.

    Personally, I'm saddened by the diagnosis - Pratchett and Banks are by far my favoured writers, and it's sad to know that fairly soon there will be no more diskworld niovels. (I just wish Banks would start churning out Culture novels at Pratchett's rate!)

  26. Anonymous Coward

    re cynical

    I wonder how many of the cynical people above have done more than put a few hours worth of money into a collecting tin in their life?

    I suspect all of them – experience shows the biggest whiners are usually the most tight with their aid – lots of charities find your time more valuable than your money, something most of us can spare if we really can be bothered

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Shame on the cynics

    What load of cynical old b-lox is getting posted in this list, makes me ashamed to be a geek.

    As he pointed out himself in this mornings interview, there is no way he will get any benefit from the research on which his £500k will be spent.

    Alzheimers research is maybe 20-30 years behind cancer research, and it would take about ten years for the outcome from such a project to be turned into useful pharma.

    He knows he can do little to directly help himself but wants to do his bit for the poor sods who will follow him. Good on him. He could of just blown all his cash on holidays in Barbados and coke.

    As to people only getting interested in a disease when it directly affects them, that is hardly any surprise. Most of the population remain happily ignorant about the effects of serious illness, until it is their turn, and obviously cannot be concerned about that of which they are ignorant.

    So cynics, wake up. Don't ascribe your horrid motivations to the (rest of the ?) human race.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @best quote

    "Personally, I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance."

    Easy when you know that you'll have forgotten you did it half an hour later...

    Best of luck Terry.

  29. Alicia

    @ cynics

    Have to disagree with you.

    It's not a vast sum of money to someone who has sold many millions of books surely? If he was totally for self interest he'd have made a considerably bigger payment and claimed against his tax.

    Who's saying he hasn't made many smaller less publicised donations directly to researchers anyway, and only made this payment to cash in on the pulicity that obviously comes with it? Whether on behalf of the charity or public opinion of himself?

    Play cynicism like chess, it's more rewarding to find the 20th move ahead to show that he could just be a clever, cynical man himself.

    And in case you're reading, Terry - <insert moment of worship>

  30. Nick Fisher


    Not being cynical here, just realistic.

    £500k certainly is a lot of money, but it doesn't buy many postdoc lab years.

    (I work at the bench in biomedical research myself and know very well how quickly grants get drained away, and how small a percentage actually goes to fund wet science and salaries).

  31. John A Blackley

    Would it be better if

    Pretty predictable lot of whingers on this story.

    "He didn't give until he got the disease." "He only gave a million dollars." "Not very altruistic, was it?"

    He gave a million dollars more than I did, he gave it when the Altzheimers' Foundation became very important to him and many others will benefit from his generosity. (BTW, the NHS is not failing to provide him with medication because he's too young. They're failing to provide him with medication because, at the staggering cost of $5 per day, the NHS reserves that particular medication for those with severe Altzheimers'.)

    Rather than ragging on a man who's dealing with a life-changing problem the best way he knows how, what about ragging on a "health service" where he stands a better chance of getting gender reassignment than treatment for early-onset Altzheimers'?

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Very Cynical

    Speaking as someone who's lost a loved one to early onset Alzheimers I can say that it doesn't matter WHY he's given money, it only matters that he HAS given money.

    Sadly the lack of funding is largely due to peoples perceptions. Cancer = bad, Alzheimers = going a bit wobbly. Once you've seen what degenerative brain disease does you know better.

    Good on yer Tel.

    (rummaging for wallet in coat)

  33. Squits

    I'm in shock

    Anyone that can say that £500k is not a lot of money will be the first up against the wall to be shot when the revolution comes.

    I would love to say that half a million pounds isn't a lot, except for the fact that if I had £500k I know I could live the rest of my life (I'm 32) very comfortably indeed.

    Other than collection tins, I've never given to charity, obviously sponsored walks at school, but I never knew what most of the charities did at that age.

    Unless you have the money of Gates/Jobs/Sultan of Brunei you aren't likely to give to EVERY charity, so Human Nature dictates you will only give to the ones that directly affect you or have the soppy begging adverts on tv.

    Good luck Terry, may you live in uninteresting times.

  34. mark Silver badge

    OI! leave it . . .

    I hope the moderators dont see this as unjustified

    To all those slagging Terry off for giving half a million quid to charity : what the fuck?

    just because he has the disease does that make him a greedy self centered sonofabitch.

    I'm just not understanding 80% of the comments here that start "call me cynical but...."

    YES he may not have given it had he not got the disease, but that dosent make him wrong.

    you are just people dying to take the piss out of something,

    so go find a paris hilton story and leave terry alone!

    he's got a terminal disease to deal with ffs, without you lot slagging him off FOR GIVING HALF A MILLION QUID TO CHARITY!.

    I'm upset for selfish reasons i.e this will mean an end to books by the one of the greatest authors of our time.


    Douglas Adams has already gone!

    bring joy to millions and die prematurely - this proves there is no god.

  35. Keith Williams

    #500,000 doesnt buy a lot of lab time

    It buys a hell of a lot more than not having it!

    Will it find a cure all by itself - no it won't. But it will help.

    Will give publicity to this problem and increase research into it - I hope so.

    My Aunt and my g/f's father both suffer from early onset Alzheimers. My Aunt died several years ago. My cousin said, it doesn't matter, my mother died a decade before that.

    My G/F's father is presently dying. He had broken a hip and, while healing, forgot how to walk. He has frogotten his family. He has forgotten his name. He has forgotten how to speak. He has forgotten how to eat.

    I applaud Mr. Pratchett's donation. I hope that they trigger more donations, both large and small.

    I know that should I ever suffer from this awful wasting disease I would serious consider ending my own life immediately rather than seeing it disappear before my eyes.

  36. Paul

    Idiot whiny ACs

    Anyone who's encountered Alzheimers and has a clue where research currently stands will know that half-a-mil now isn't going to find a cure even slightly close to "in time" for himself. He could have given them a *billion* quid and not been much more likely to benefit personally from it. It's not like you can walk into a research lab, slap down a huge wad of cash, and walk out 10 minutes later with a bottle of pills that'll cure you.

    So it's hardly a cynical, selfish motive. More like someone who, until they were personally touched by this, was blissfully unaware of how poorly supported such research actually is. That's a pretty normal state of affairs for most people as it turns out.

  37. Anonymous Coward


    Hold on.

    This chap gives 500K to alzheimers charities, and furthermore uses what fame he has to publicise their cause.

    And saint sillybollocks criticises this because why? Because s/he does more nice things in his/her life all the time? Well that's absurd because such a saint would certainly not be wasting his/her time criticising Mr Prachett on this website.

    If Jesus came down to earth a second time and started healing the sick in African would you criticise him for being too obvious and cliched? If I helped your sick grandmother accross the road would you berate me for doing too little, too late and just trying to justify my sad little-england helping old ladies accross the road worldview? If I were struck down by an illness I'd never thought much about before and suddenly started trying to raise awareness of it, backed up with my own hard-earned cash, would you criticise me on the pages of an IT website...oh hold on.

    Frankly I feel that in my life I'm a fairly decent sort - I work hard, I look after my family, I try to be kind, use local shops, by fairly traded goods and offer people my seat on the tube. However, I have never:

    - Written dozens of wonderful books that give people all over the world untold joy.

    - Continued the great satirical literary tradition of Swift, Wodehouse, Adams et al.

    - Shown the world that it is possible to follow your dream and live a full, creative life without being a whore to the celebrity industry of believing my own hype.

    - Hung around with Neil Gaiman!!!

    - Given £500K to any charity.

    - Significantly raised public awareness of any disease.

    Yet miserable little twats like you don't criticise me, you criticise Terry Pratchett because he's actually stuck his head above the parapet and achieved something of note.

    Anonymous because you've really made me cross!


  38. John Taylor
    Thumb Up

    good on him

    Good on him...would your rather the charity didn't have an additional £500k to spend? He has done good here and he should be recognized for it..well done Mr Pratchett :)

  39. Charles-A Rovira

    As an MSer I sympathize, Hell I can empathize!

    All of you blokes writing cynical sh*te, we don't care about you neither.

    I'm looking at my office wall right now and every book by Terry Pratchett is up there. I hope he writes many more.

  40. Morely Dotes

    Re: OI! leave it . . .

    "bring joy to millions and die prematurely - this proves there is no god."

    Or that whatever god is in charge of setting appointments with Death is an illiterate, humourless, capricious and malicious son of a bitch.

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster would never have done this to us.

    Hang in there, Pterry, if anyone can beat Alzheimer's by sheer determination, I'd lay my bet on you.

    And to do my own selfish bit: PLEASE spend whatever time you have left expanding the Diskworld series. Even if you outlive me (not unlikely), I'll continue buying your books as long as I possibly can (I have a habit of trading them in, then buying them back every 6 months or so anyway).

    Oh, and for those of you slagging off Pterry because his donation was "selfish:" You're all going to die sooner or later. I hope quite sincerely that whatever kills you does it soon, without you knowing what you've got until it's too late, and the cure is announced right after your autopsy. Bastards.

  41. jason lee

    While I don't donate cash...

    As I'm unemployed and have limited income as it is - I do donate my spare CPU time to the folding@home project which it's main headling is "Our goal: to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases" which covers Alzheimers and many more.

    I've done this for years as an aid towards science - even before I learned my favorite author was diagnosed - and will continue to do so.

    Hoping some (or most) will download and help this project.

  42. Mark Lockwood
    Thumb Up

    Interesting definitions of cynicism above

    It's widely agreed here that $1m isn't going to solve the problem of alzheimers, but it's a start.

    This money isn't going to cure the problem in Terry's lifetime, but it may help others in the future.

    The longer he has his "I aint dead" sign on display, the better.

  43. Lupus

    Beware, cowards!

    I don't know about you but I don't think about charities at all unless I know somebody who's been affected by what they're campaigning for or against.

  44. tony burrows

    cynical? I don't think so

    While supporting other charities, I never thought about tinitus or epilepsy til I was diagnosed with both. When I found out how little was known and how poor the funding was, deafness research and epilepsy action were added to the list.

    If you don't come across a problem, how do you discover what support is needed?


  45. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Grace and flavour.

    "Personally, I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance."

    Easy when you know that you'll have forgotten you did it half an hour later...

    Not so easy if you think you might not get better and end up thinking for the rest of your life, that you just did it.

    More Ketchup my little lawn ornament?

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Aubry Thonon

    Personal note

    My wife and I were lucky enough to meet Pterry socially during one of his earlier visits to OZ. And I do mean *personally*, as in "not across a table during a signing or on a podium giving a speech". He was personable, articulate, a pleasure to listen to (even later on in the evening after several drinks), declared that my wife had "God's sense of humour" (long story) and was kind enough to sign my Wizard costume (twice, some idiot slapped me on the back before the fabric paint was dry. Pterry was devastated and came over to sign the other shoulder). He even remembered us when he came back a few years later.

    Yes, he is afflicted with a terrible disease and is now looking for someone to create a cure in time to help him. So what? Wouldn't you? Unless you yourself are looking down the barrel of an incurable disease (and Life doesn't count), you are not qualified to pass judgement.

  48. Alan Wilkinson
    Thumb Up

    Great man, good wishes

    To be able to give, you first have to earn. And usually to earn a lot you also have to give a lot.

    So Patchett is giving twice over and I wish him and all sufferers of horrible illnesses all the very best.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Seriously people, half a million DOESN'T buy vast amounts of research...

    ...but appearing on the news and in the papers may affect public opinion enough to raise the cash which will. Terry will not benefit directly from the research his money will fund - and he knows that. The time-scales of medical research and his illness mean that anything which comes to fruition in time to help him has been in developement for some time already. When you see a headline "Sudden breakthrough in treatment of X" they've left off the second bit "...after fifteen years basic slogging through the stuff which didn't pan out."

    Mine's the coat with "LIVE FATS DIE YO GNU" on it, please!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Want Altruism the how's this?

    Knowing he has the condition does detract slightly from the warm and fluffy feeling that Altruistic giving lets us all feel. Yes it's fantastic he has donated some of his vast fortune to the cause and lets hope the publicity helps future sufferers becasue as stated it's probably too late for him. All the best. </genuine sympathy>

    But for Altruistic giving how about the much hated Bill Gates and the not so much hated Warren Buffett.

    Buffett, one of the richest men in the world has told his kids they wont see the bulk of his money and has donated 85% of his wealth to various charities. The small total

    $40 billion ish.

    Now that's a proper donation.

  51. Anonymous Coward


    i have sat here and read through many of the above comments and seethe with anger. it is true that you are not aware of so many of the charities out there, that are absolutely desperate for funding until you are face to face with that condition. my father, like mr pratchett was diagnosed with early onset alzheimers at 57. now 61 we can no longer give him the care he needs, he's in a mental unit until a nursing home can be found that is suitable for a young fit otherwise healthy man.

    if by making this generous donation terrys' money can help towards the cost of finding a cure and by giving us all that suffer along side the afflicted, hope, then don't knock it.

    the battle now is caring for my mum as this disease has stole a young mans life. he can no longer provide and the government doesnt give a damn about her just so long as they can claw back the cost of nursing home fees- this is just the tip of dementia and its long term impact on ALL of us. i can guarrantee you will all now some one in you circle that will suffer the inhumanity of this disease and witness the effect of BEGGING for help and support will have on those around them.

    i shall be writing to gordon brown and i'm thankful to terrys' donation as it may well make my letter a bit more poignant(if he reads it!). all i ask is if others are suffering and you are not happy with the very poor provision made towards finding a cure for alzheimers etc, please write also. i am one voice in hundreds of thousands, lets be many more voices and lets be heard. alzheimers is a fast growing problem and early on set doesn't really appear to be that rare, i know to many and facilities are non existant for them.

  52. angela


    i,m not an aonymous coward, my name is angie goggs,and i am trying to look after my parents welfare.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @John A Blackley

    "Rather than ragging on a man who's dealing with a life-changing problem the best way he knows how, what about ragging on a "health service" where he stands a better chance of getting gender reassignment than treatment for early-onset Altzheimers'?"

    Please look into gender reassignment in a bit more depth. It is not something that is done willy-nilly, it is done only after a full psychiatric evaluation.

    As an aside - even if it is true that a randomly selected person X has a better chance of getting gender reassignment (which simply isn't true considering the relative numbers of transgendered people and those who are likely to develop alzheimers), who is to say that Alzheimers should be seen as more important to treat?

  54. Slaine

    the geniouth of the Igor

    Alwayth it ith the thame mathter. No matter actionth you take, no matter what reathonth you have, the rampaging horde'th of pichfork wielding thychpathth will be out-thide brandithing their tharp pointy thtickth and threatening violenth angaitht one. I have experienthed thith tho many timeth now it doethen't thurprithe me in the thlightetht. If there ith anything I can do to help, of courth, jutht athk and I'll thet to work yethterday.

    I'll justht grab my labcoat.

  55. Danny

    @ the last AC

    'who is to say that Alzheimers should be seen as more important to treat?'

    That would be because alzheimers is a life destroying illness for the person afflicted and the families of said person. Gender reassignment is just to make somebody feel better about themselves because according to them nature got it wrong and they should have been the opposite sex - not exactly life destroying


  56. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ not much money in writing comment

    look at the harry potter women....


  57. Waldo
    Thumb Up

    Thank you Terry! and down with the Trolls

    As someone who nursed a parent though this dreadful aliment to her early death over many years I am grateful.

    Do this, then see if gender reassignment is important then! sheesh!

    Shame on the cynics here ( And believe me, I am a cynic too)

    Of course you donate to where you have personal experience - why not? - Give it to the government instead? _ I think not...

    Go be cynical else Trolls - If this illness ever hits you I bet you will be a little more contrite then!

    @ Danny - You got it right.

  58. Jon Tocker

    I can see why so many people have posted anonymously

    Because if they hadn't, they'd likely be beaten to a pulp by others here.

    Alzheimers is not fun for the sufferers or those who care for the sufferers. I saw my grandfather - who was a man I really admired for his wit and intellect - reduced to rubble by that disease and now another whose wit and intellect I admire is going to be similarly affected.

    The only thing I feel more than my sadness at Pterry's plight right now, is my anger at the petty little shits who have belittled him and his donation.


    Good on ya, cobber. You've managed to convey what I wanted to say but with fewer obscenities and less vitriol.

    To Pterry if you're reading this thread:

    All the best, mate, and don't let petty little twats get you down.

  59. Steve Glover

    Match it for Pratchett

    There's a campaign, started by Pat Cadigan, to try and double Pterry's donation.

    See here:

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